CHARLEROI, Belgium, 2 Feb. 2016. Engineers at Thales Alenia Space Belgium in Charleroi, Belgium, are helping to develop the range safety system for Ariane 6, including a qualification launch, under a contract with Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), part of Safran in Paris and prime contractor for the Ariane 6 launcher on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The main function of the range safety system is to neutralize the launcher if its trajectory endangers people or property. The system's core comprises electronic units designed and built by Thales Alenia Space Belgium that will be used in conjunction with other components, shared by the Ariane 5, Vega, and Soyuz launchers, to form the entire range safety system.
The new Ariane 6 launcher, approved by ESA's ministerial-level council, is intended to address both the fast-growing commercial launch services market and European requirements for government missions. Two versions of this launch vehicle are planned: Ariane 6.2, with two strap-on solid boosters, mainly intended for government satellites; and Ariane 6.4, with four strap-on boosters, capable of dual launches and mainly intended for commercial payloads. The first launch of Ariane 6 is planned for 2020.
Thales Alenia Space Belgium is a Belgian manufacturer of space electronics and electrical power supply systems for satellites. Its products have been chosen for nearly 200 space programs, including half of the electronics on the Ariane 5 launcher and the range safety systems for Soyuz and Ariane 6. The company has over 700 employees at plants in Mont-sur-Marchienne (Charleroi) and Leuven.
Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%), is a European player in space telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, exploration, and orbital infrastructures. Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio form the two parent companies' “Space Alliance,” which offers a complete range of services and solutions. With expertise in dual (civil/military) missions, constellations, flexible payloads, altimetry, meteorology, and high-resolution optical and radar instruments, Thales Alenia Space is a partner to countries that want to expand their space program, officials say. The company posted consolidated revenues in excess of 2 billion euros in 2014, and has 7,500 employees in eight countries.
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Images courtesy ESA.