Press releases

Thales Alenia Space has selected the UK’s National Satellite Test Facility for FLEX satellite first test campaign

Press releases

Thales Alenia Space has selected the UK’s National Satellite Test Facility for FLEX satellite first test campaign

Available in

    December 15, 2023 - Thales Alenia Space, a joint-venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has selected the UK’s National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF), at RAL Space in Oxfordshire, for the first comprehensive assembly, integration and test campaign of the European Space Agency’s FLEX (Fluorescence Explorer) satellite.

    FLEX satellite will be used to map the fluorescence of the Earth's vegetation, which will provide a better understanding of the Earth's state of health and vegetation productivity on a global scale. As prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space will lead the satellite platform assembly, integration and test campaign planned in 2025, following the receipt of the FLORIS (Fluorescence Imaging Spectrometer) innovative instrument. Developed by Leonardo, this high-resolution imaging spectrometer will map the Earth's vegetation fluorescence to quantify photosynthetic activity.


    “We are delighted to lead the first test campaign for ESA’s FLEX satellite in the National Satellite Test Facility. This activity builds upon our recent successful completion of the assembly, integration and test campaign of the MicroCarb Satellite. The AIT of MicroCarb was carried out on behalf of the UK and French Space Agencies and will be Europe’s first carbon monitoring mission” commented Andrew Stanniland CEO of Thales Alenia Space in the UK.

    Matt Fletcher, Head of Environmental Test at National Satellite Test Facility, RAL Space, added : “FLEX is a fascinating satellite and we’re delighted to be supporting Thales Alenia Space and ESA with its assembly and testing. The National Satellite Test Facility was purpose-build for just this sort of ambitious project, and we’re looking forward to putting FLEX through its paces and preparing it for the rigours of space.”


    FLEX © Thales Alenia Space

    Information from FLEX will improve our understanding of how carbon moves between plants and the atmosphere and how photosynthesis affects the carbon and water cycles. In addition, information from FLEX will give us a better insight into plant health. This is especially important today since the Earth’s growing population is placing increasing demands on the production of food and animal feed. It is estimated that there will have to be more than a 50% increase in agricultural production by 2050 to meet demand. Understanding plant health and productivity is therefore essential to managing resources.

    The FLEX satellite will orbit in tandem with one of the Sentinel-3 satellites (part of Europe’s Copernicus program), also built by Thales Alenia Space. It will take advantage of Sentinel-3’s optical and thermal sensors to provide an integrated package of measurements to assess plant health.

    ABOUT THALES ALENIA SPACE Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 2.2 billion euros in 2022 and has around 8,500 employees in 17 sites in 10 countries across Europe and a plant in the USA.

    THALES ALENIA SPACE – PRESS CONTACTS Sandrine Bielecki Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94 Isis Baracco Tel: +33(0) 6 86 16 26 77

    Jill Hutchinson
    Tel. : +44 (0) 7854 959 805