EADS Astrium has confirmed plans to launch two prototype optical early-warning micro-satellites as piggyback payloads on an Ariane 5 mission to geostationary transfer orbit in 2008.

Spirale EADS

EADS is prime contractor for the Spirale demonstrator programme, under a €124 million ($150 million) contract from French defence procurement agency DGA, and will also provide an alert and monitoring ground segment. The 130kg (285lb) satellites are based on the Myriade spacecraft bus developed by French space agency CNES and built by Alcatel Alenia Space.

The Spirale programme is the first of its kind in Europe. The micro-satellites will collect and analyse infrared images to detect ballistic missiles during their boost phase, against the background of land “clutter”, as a demonstrator for a future operational European early-warning network.


Source: Flight International