Airbus Defence and Space has been awarded a contract to build the user ground segment (UGS) of France’s multinational space-based imaging system (MUSIS) observation satellite programme. Awarded by the French defence procurement agency (DGA), the €300m contract also covers provision of through-life support for the UGS for a 12-year period. Airbus Defence and Space Space Systems head François Auque said the contract was awarded due to the technological excellence and reliability of Space Systems in the space domain, which is currently experiencing especially intense competition in major institutional markets. ”Astrium’s know-how and that of our partners, chief among them the teams at Cassidian – with whom we now work together in the same division -made all the difference with our customer, the DGA,” Auque said.
In addition to enabling the transmission of programming commands to the MUSIS satellites and subsequent receipt, generation, distribution and storage of the images they acquire, the ground segment will also allow the French armed forces to access all the existing and future satellite observation sensors. Manufactured in collaboration with Capgemini, CS and other small medium enterprises (SMEs), such as Magellium, the ground segment is due to enter service by 2017. Two MUSIS programme satellites are jointly being manufactured by an Airbus Defense and Space-led industry team and Thales Alenia Space as part of a contract awarded by the French Space Agency (CNES) in December 2010. The satellites, which enable the identification of smaller targets, particularly in crisis zones, and reduce the time needed to send the imagery to decision-makers and to the military, are scheduled to progressively replace the current Helios 2 optical system from 2017.