In the Spotlight

Thales Alenia Space, a major sponsor of the UK Space Conference

In the Spotlight

Thales Alenia Space, a major sponsor of the UK Space Conference

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    Thales Alenia Space is participating in the UK Space Conference from July 13 to 15, 2015 in Liverpool. Organized under the auspices of the UK Space Agency, the Space Conference will bring together the entire UK space community, including the space industry, users, entrepreneurs, researchers, academia and government. The company's British subsidiary, Thales Alenia Space UK, was set up in 2014 and now employs over 75 people. It is involved in several programs, including Spacebus NEO, as a supplier of propulsion subsystems, and ExoMars 2018, with responsibility for the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). At the UK Space Conference, Thales Alenia Space UK will review the challenges facing the satellite market in this country.

    Thales Alenia Space's decision to start a British subsidiary in 2014 was motivated by the British government's strong commitment to developing its space industry. Its growth initiatives led to the creation of the UK Space Agency, an increased contribution to the European Space Agency (ESA), a number of investments to create the Harwell Space Gateway, and support for the Neosat program. Under these conditions, Thales Alenia Space opened in Harwell in 2014 and acquired SEA's space business, leading to the opening of a second facility in Bristol. The British company offers recognized expertise in onboard electronics and mission subsystems, having participated in major ESA missions, such as BepiColumbo. Additionally, the propulsion subsystems for the new Spacebus NEO platform – including the all-electric version – were designed and produced by Thales Alenia Space UK. To support the long-term development of the propulsion team, the British subsidiary is devoting a significant share of its R&D budget to developing green propulsion technologies. By investing in brand new clean rooms at the Bristol site, Thales Alenia Space UK has all the capabilities needed to meet upcoming European space exploration challenges.

    Thales Alenia Space UK is also ready to develop new areas of expertise based on innovative technologies that will further expand its role as a major player in the UK space industry, which will include working with a number of local partners to develop a reliable supply chain and fully support the ambitious growth targets of the UK Space Agency.

    The Spacebus NEO family, including an all-electric version!

    Spacebus NEO - Copyright: Master Image Programmes

    Spacebus NEO is Thales Alenia Space's new family of platforms for geostationary telecom satellites. It will be available in a variety of versions for all types of satellites, from entry-level, to ultra-high-capacity. Operators will be able to choose the propulsion configuration that best meets their needs, whether all-electric or hybrid. Starting in 2016, these platforms will be able to carry payloads up to two metric tons, with power exceeding 20 kW. The all-electric Spacebus NEO is already being marketed. It will carry payloads of 1,400 kg or more, and provide over 16 kW of power.

    ExoMars: "Is There Life on Mars?"


    ExoMars is a joint program between ESA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos. It comprises two missions, in 2016 and 2018, which are designed to study the Martian environment, atmosphere and soil.

    The initial ExoMars 2016 mission aims to demonstrate Europe's ability to land a probe on the Red Planet. It also involves an orbiter that will help determine the optimum landing site for the 2018 mission, which will use a descent module to land a rover on Mars. In particular, this rover will drill Martian soil samples to see if there are any traces of life. ExoMars is expected to generate data that will keep scientists busy for many years to come!

    ExoMars 2016 will start in January 2016, and the second mission in May 2018. Thales Alenia Space is the industrial prime contractor for both missions.