France and Italy are near to signing a deal to co-operate on studies of a new generation of small civil/military observation satellites.

According to French space agency CNES, the talks could lead to a programme launch by mid-year. France and Italy have been working on their own small observation satellite projects. France is undertaking a two-year Fr100 million ($15 million) Pléiades programme, while Italy has been studying its own project since the failure of talks between France, Italy and Spain on finance for the proposed Helios 2 observation satellite.

The joint constellation would be a candidate for single launch by the Vega small launcher proposed by Italy for European Space Agency funding.

Source: Flight International