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This new contract, financed by the Space Command, is an extension of the service contract set up in 2017. It was signed by the Ministry for the Armed Forces and the trusted operator ArianeGroup for an augmented optical surveillance capability for Medium Earth Orbits (MEO), Geostationary Earth Orbits (GEO) and High Earth Orbits (HEO). ArianeGroup will also propose experiments aiming to ensure that greater use is made of telescopes.
ArianeGroup has a reliable and operational network of varied optical sensors around the world and a centralized Command and Control center, incorporating the latest technical innovations in the fields of optics, automation and rapid processing of orbital data. This space surveillance system, called GEOTracker®, provides its customers with positioning, orbit tracking and analysis data in order to protect their satellites against all types of in-orbit risks. For the Ministry for the Armed Forces, this system can detect, monitor and help characterize space objects, whether active or inactive, in order to establish the space situation and contribute to protecting French space resources.
The GEOTracker® network of optical stations, located on all continents, is wholly owned and operated by ArianeGroup and provides permanent 360° coverage of the entire geostationary arc, with the highest level of operational availability plus customized programming flexibility to meet changing customer needs.
For more than 10 years now, France has had a true space surveillance capacity. But, at a time when the number of satellites is growing exponentially, an augmented space surveillance capability is both decisive in reinforcing our strategic independence and in being able to provide a rapid response to emerging threats, and effective in order to protect our own space capabilities and those of our European allies. GEOTracker® is a highly sophisticated and flexible service as it is capable of rapidly evolving according to our needs or the addition of new technical parameters.”
With this new contract, France is further reinforcing an efficient service for the surveillance and protection of its strategic space infrastructures at a time when most space nations are gradually becoming aware of the risks faced by space systems, which have become essential for our modern societies to function. It is our long-standing excellence in the field of major space systems and in the analysis of the state of our strategic space which means that we can today contribute to addressing these major challenges to European security, thanks to our unique services such as GEOTracker® and laser-based technologies.”
Detailed characterization of space objects and the production of high value added information are essential requirements paving the way for future developments of European programs under the European Defence Fund. The European Commission also selected ArianeGroup in June 2021 to set up two space surveillance projects, called “Sauron” and “Integral”, confirming its role as a major player in the field of space surveillance.
The data analyzed thanks to the expertise of ArianeGroup are kept in an updated catalogue of securely managed operational services and products for use on behalf of institutional and commercial customers. In accordance with France’s space defense strategy ambitions, this multi-year contract helps to meet the need for knowledge of the space situation.
Demand for surveillance systems will thus grow in the coming years, in order to provide solutions to meet future constraints linked to the acceleration and densification of space activities.
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