Press releases

Thales Alenia Space will provide communication equipment to NASA’s NEO Surveyor mission

Press releases

Thales Alenia Space will provide communication equipment to NASA’s NEO Surveyor mission

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    • The equipment produced at Thales Alenia Space sites in Madrid (Spain), Toulouse (France) and Charlerloi (Belgium) will enable the transmission to Earth of the spacecraft telemetries and the images captured by the space telescope.
    • The planetary defense mission, scheduled for launch in 2028, will search for Near-Earth Objects, including bright and dark asteroids, the latter of which are the most difficult to find.

    Madrid, February 13, 2024 – Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has signed a contract with prime contractor Ball Aerospace to supply communications equipment for NASA’s NEO Surveyor mission. The main goal of this five-year mission is to advance efforts to defend our planet against near-Earth objects like asteroids and comets, specifically within 50 million kilometers from our planet’s orbit. NEO Surveyor will employ an infrared space telescope designed to discover and characterize at least two-thirds of the near-Earth objects more than 140 meters (460 feet) across capable of causing significant damage should they impact the Earth.

    Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, NEO Surveyor will journey 1.5 million kilometers to a region of gravitational stability – called the L1 Lagrange point – between Earth and the Sun, where the spacecraft will orbit during its five-year primary mission. From this location, NEO Surveyor will view the solar system in infrared wavelengths – light that is invisible to the human eye and mostly blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere. By using two heat-sensitive infrared imaging channels, the NEO Surveyor space telescope will be capable of detecting comets, both bright and dark asteroids, which are the most difficult type to find, and to make accurate measurements of NEO sizes and gain valuable information about their composition, shapes, rotational states, and orbits.

    Thales Alenia Space will provide S-band Transponder, K-band Modulator and K-band Travelling Wave Tube Amplifier (TWTA) equipment for the NEO Surveyor spacecraft. The S-band Transponders are the units in charge of receiving the telecommands sent from NASA’s Deep Space Network, and transmitting the spacecraft’s telemetries back to Earth, as well as the ranging signals used to measure the spacecraft’s distance. The K-band Modulators and Power Amplifiers are in charge sending to Earth the images captured by the NEO Surveyor telescope.

    NEO Surveyor in space

    NEO Surveyor ©NASA JPL

    Emmanuel Terrasse, Vice President Equipment of Thales Alenia Space, said “We are thrilled to provide key communications equipment for the NEO Surveyor mission, which will represent a significant advance in NASA-led planetary defense efforts to protect our planet from hazardous asteroids and comets. We are grateful to prime contractor Ball Aerospace for their choice and trust in Thales Alenia Space. For more than 40 years Thales Alenia Space has contributed to hundreds of missions providing critical communications technologies, from Low Earth Orbit to Deep Space, including flagship NASA missions to explore the Universe such as the James Webb Space Telescope and the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope.”


    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.


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