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Thales Alenia Space and OHB System sign contract for PLATO

(4 October 2018 - Thales Alenia Space) Thales Alenia Space, the joint company between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), announced today that it has signed a contract with OHB System for the new ESA program PLATO (PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars).

OHB System AG will be the prime contractor with Thales Alenia Space as a partner. PLATO will be the third medium-class (M3) science mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision Program, following Solar Orbiter (M1) and Euclid (M2), and preceding Ariel (M4). The satellite will be launched in 2026 for an initial mission length of 4.5 years.

The aim of PLATO is to find and study extrasolar planetary systems, especially terrestrial type planets in the habitable zone (compatible with water in the liquid state) around stars similar to our Sun. Unlike the previous missions, CoRot and Kepler, it will offer the unique ability to carry out stable, wide-field observations of bright stars over a very long period (two to four years), enabling us to detect and characterize planets orbiting slowly around their sun, such as the Earth. It will be placed into orbit around the L2 Lagrangian point, and will carry a scientific payload comprising 26 cameras and the associated electronics.

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PLATO (courtesy: OHB System)

Thales Alenia Space (France and UK) will be in charge of avionics and integration for the service module (SVM). The AOCS (Attitude and Orbit Control System) software proposed for PLATO draws on the expertise and processes developed over the last 20 years and more. Thales Alenia Space offers full expertise in satellite avionics development and testing, from initial equipment specifications to test benches and AIT (assembly, integration, testing). The avionics test bench will be integrated and operated at Thales Alenia Space’s Cannes facility, with teams from Thales Alenia Space in UK also heavily involved. The PLATO Telescopes Optical Units (TOU), funded by Italian Space Agency (ASI), were designed by INAF ((Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica) and will be built at Leonardo site in Campi Bisenzio in collaboration with the universities of Berna, Thales Alenia Space and Medialario to be delivered for the global integration of the cameras at the OHB Space Center “Optics & Science” in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich in a special ISO Class 5 clean room.

“We are very proud to cooperate with OHB System AG in developing and assembling this unique science satellite for ESA” - said Donato Amoroso, SE Vice-President Observation, Exploration, Navigation at Thales Alenia Space. “The PLATO program will draw on the full range of our avionics skills, already deployed across our telecommunications and Earth observation satellite product lines, as well as knowledge acquired through our work on other L2 missions, namely Herschel-Planck and Euclid. The integration operations assigned to Thales Alenia Space in the United Kingdom reflect our company’s strategy of expanding our European footprint.”

About Thales Alenia Space

Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of 2.6 billion euros in 2017 and has 7,980 employees in nine countries.