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Astrium wins Helios through life support contract extension
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (SPX) Mar 12, 2012

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Astrium, Europe's leading space technology company, has signed a through life support contract with the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA Delegation generale de l'armement) to continue to be responsible for the ground segment maintenance (MCO) of the Helios 2 military optical reconnaissance system.

The contract, announced by Mr Gerard Longuet, French Minister of Defence and Veterans' Affairs, at Astrium's Toulouse site, will run from this year through to 2018, continuing a support service that began in 2005 after the start of operations of the Helios 2A satellite.

The contract will also cover the successors to the Helios programme: the satellites that make up the optical space component (CSO) of the MUSIS multinational space-based imaging system and the associated ground component (SSU-CSO).

Ground segment maintenance is essential for a space observation system - alongside the satellites in orbit, the ground segment is at the heart of the system as it is essential for programming, receiving, processing and distributing the images.

The MCO agreement covers the maintenance, including all necessary updates, of the hardware and software resources spread across in six countries (Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Greece) as well as support for operations.

Helios is a high-resolution military optical reconnaissance system that currently comprises two operational satellites (Helios 2A and Helios 2B), developed under Astrium prime contractorship.

Helios provides the programme's partner countries with an autonomous situational awareness capability. The space-based system can acquire images of any point on the globe at any time, and even make repeated passes over the same target area without risk of detection.

Helios 2 is a military optical reconnaissance programme developed by France in cooperation with four other European Union member states (Belgium, Spain, Italy and Greece).

The images it captures provide valuable information for high-level state authorities and forces deployed in operational theatre. The most recent Helios satellite, Helios 2B, was launched in December 2009 by Ariane 5, also developed under Astrium prime contractorship.

For more than 30 years now, Astrium has been the prime contractor, for the French armed forces and for its customers, the DGA and CNES (the French space agency), of both ground user segments and satellites for the French military space optical observation programme.

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