Thales Alenia Space has signed an agreement with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) for the next phase of the second generation COSMO-SkyMed activities. The contract is valued at around €66 million, and initiates the activation of Phase C3 of the program, i.e., the activities for completion of the system design and basic technological developments for both to the on-board component (two satellites at the cutting edge of technology and performance) and all ground infrastructures (ground segment, operations and logistics).

A temporary grouping of companies has been set up, with Thales Alenia Space Italy as mandataire and Telespazio as partner. This entity will optimize the organization of all executive activities for development of the system and operational management of the program.

The value of the Thales Alenia Space Italia tranche of the contract is €43.6 million, while Telespazio’s activities are valued at €23 million. Telespazio will in particular be responsible for developing the ground segment and the integrated logistics of the operations.

Elisio Giacomo Prette, president and CEO of Thales Alenia Space Italia, said: "We are extremely pleased with the achievement of this first important goal, which will allow the partial continuation of the program’s industrial activities until 2015. A special word of thanks is due to the Italian Space Agency, especially its President, Roberto Battiston, as well as Italy’s Minister of Defense Roberta Pinotti, and the Minister of Education, University and Research, Stefania Giannini, for the commitments they have promised and respected with regard to the space industry. COSMO-SkyMed is the crowning achievement of radar technology worldwide, a unique dual-use constellation. This lets us hope that financing for the entire system can be guaranteed by the end of 2014.”

In order to guarantee the continuity of the services provided by the First Generation COSMO-SkyMed System, currently at the peak of its operations, it is essential that the first satellite be operational in the first half of 2017 and the second by 2018. To achieve this goal, and since the phase C3 now agreed upon provides only partial financial coverage, guaranteeing financing for the entire system by the end of 2014 is an essential priority.

The development of Second Generation COSMO-SkyMed will guarantee a generational leap in terms of technology, performance and operational life of the system and, consequently, Italian leadership in the Earth Observation sector will be strengthened worldwide. Strategic international partnerships, like those already in place with France and Poland, will also be expanded.