Julian Moxon/PARIS

French space agency CNES is looking for a successor to its Topex-Poseidon oceanic-research satellite, produced in co-operation with NASA and launched in 1992.

The "Topex follow-on" craft will be smaller than the 2,430kg Topex, at around 450kg, and will cost around Fr1 billion ($208 million). NASA is apparently interested in joining the new programme, but has little support from the US Government.

France says that it is prepared to go it alone, or share the project with another country.

According to CNES president Andre Lebeau, the follow-on satellite "...will have the same capabilities as the Topex". He adds that such a craft, which will be based on the new Proteus platform for satellites up to 500kg, "...does not yet exist in the European portfolio".

Lebeau will propose the project to the French Government in the next few months, and is looking for a go-ahead decision this year.

Source: Flight International