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Thales Alenia Space signed a contract with the European Space Agency to develop a Low Earth Orbit Cargo Return Service

22/05/2024

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This contract represents a significant leap in securing Europe sustainable access to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

The vehicle and associated ground infrastructure will be compatible with the evolution towards crew transportation to human outposts in LEO, as well as cargo return service from the Gateway space station in cis-lunar orbit.

This program will benefit from Thales Alenia Space's cutting-edge technology, know-how and long-standing expertise in space exploration vehicles and infrastructure.

Bruxelles - 22 May 2024 - Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has signed a first phase contract worth 25m with the European Space Agency (ESA) to demonstrate a complete cargo delivery service to and from space stations in low-Earth orbit by 2028. The development of this LEO Cargo Return Service will be co-founded by Thales Alenia Space.

Thales Alenia Space's role

Earth Re-entry Vehicle technological demonstrator, R&D base for the future evolution of the LEO Cargo Return Service Thales Alenia Space

During this two-year phase contract (from June 2024 to June 2026), Thales Alenia Space, as the prime contractor, will develop the service through the consolidation of the business plan and the preliminary engagement of potential investors and customers. The company will also be responsible for the initial development of the spacecraft, focusing on requirements, architectures, technology maturation and de-risking activities.

Thales Alenia Space in Italy is the industrial prime contractor. Thales Alenia Space in France will be involved in the spacecraft development while ALTEC, a joint venture between Thales Alenia Space Italia (63,75%) and the Italian Space Agency (36,25%), will be responsible of the Ground Segment and Recovery Ground Support Infrastructure developments. During this Phase 1, the industrial team will be enlarged to include additional companies in order to capitalize on the existing know-how within the European space industry and to ensure the most efficient execution of the project.

The Phase 2 will cover the further development of the service and spacecraft, as well as the execution of the demonstration mission. This demonstration mission, which includes the delivery of pressurized cargo to the ISS and the safe return of the cargo back to Earth, is targeted by the end of 2028.

A forward looking program positioning Europe in the upcoming space economy

Thales Alenia Space

This program comes at a time when the space exploration landscape is evolving rapidly, with a blend of institutional and commercial players embarking on missions to explore Low Earth Orbit, the Moon, and Mars. Thales Alenia Space aims to develop a competitive and flexible end-to-end commercial passenger and cargo transport service, raising the bar in terms of innovation and efficiency while reinforcing the companys role as a major player in the upcoming space economy.

We're truly honored that ESA has placed its trust in our company by awarding the contract to develop cargo transportation services for commercial operators of Low Earth Orbit stations, thus giving us, as a leading European company, the opportunity to develop a commercial service to offer on the global market. said Massimo Comparini, Deputy CEO and Senior Executive Vice President, Observation, Exploration and Navigation at Thales Alenia Space. Thales Alenia Space has played, in the recent past, a key role in enabling mankinds ambitions in Low Earth Orbit. Today, leveraging on its expertise in space exploration infrastructure and vehicles, the company, fully in line with the European Space Agency's vision, wishes to invest in the development of technological solutions to give Europe a sustainable access to Low Earth Orbit .

Thales Alenia Space can draw on more than its 40 years' heritage in space exploration and transportation, playing an undisputed role in the development of the International Space Station, of the Lunar Gateway and the backbone of Orion's service module, and participating in flagship transportation programs like IXV and Space Rider. The future space ecosystem is calling for new solutions dedicated to the transportation and return of cargo from LEO and the Lunar Orbit, as well as crew transportation to LEO. Thales Alenia Space is ready to put in place what is needed to prepare for humanity's future life and presence in space, laying the foundations for the post-ISS era and meeting new economic needs in research and science.

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 2023 and has around 8,600 employees in 17 sites in 10 countries across Europe and a plant in the USA.

THALES ALENIA SPACE - PRESS CONTACTS

Tarik Lahlou

Tel: +33 (0)6 87 95 89 56

tarik.lahlou@thalesaleniaspace.com

Catherine des Arcis

Tel. : +33 (0)6 78 64 63 97

catherine.des-arcis@thalesaleniaspace.com

Cinzia Marcanio

T l. : +39 (0)6 41 51 26 85

Ci
LINK: https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/worldwide/space/press_release/thales-al...
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