Franco-Italian joint venture Thales Alenia Space and Russia's satellite specialist NPO-PM have agreed to develop a new multi-mission satellite platform called Express-4000.

The two companies are to develop the platform for geosynchronous and highly elliptical orbital missions. Based on Thales Alenia Space's Spacebus 4000 technology, the Express-4000 will incorporate Russian equipment and subsystems but use a Thales payload.

Marketed with NPO-PM as prime contractor, the Express-4000 will be integrated at the Russian company's facilities and be compatible for launch with the Khrunichev Space Center's Proton rocket.

"Thales Alenia Space and NPO-PM are buying from Russian suppliers common equipment for the Spacebus 4000 and Express-4000 series [for] significant improvement of the competitiveness of the Spacebus 4000 platform," said the two companies in a joint statement.

NPO-PM and Thales Alenia Space have co-operated since 1995 when they worked on the SESAT satellite for EUTELSAT. Thales Alenia Space is providing NPO-PM payload teams with training for the assembly and testing of the Russian company's Express-33 and -44 telecommunication satellites.

Thales Alenia Space has also, to date, provided 11 payloads for NPO-PM Express-AM platforms three for Express-MD1, -MD2 and MD-3/Kazsat-1 platforms and two repeaters for other platforms.

The Russian link up by Thales Aenia Space follows its western European competitor EADS Astrim's co-operation with the Indian Space Research organisaton's commercial arm Antrix to help reduce costs.

Source: Flight International