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Thales receives $129.88 mln ExoMars mission extended contract

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The ExoMars programme will be launched in partnership with NASA. Photo: ESA.

CANNES (BNS): Thales Alenia Space has received 98 million Euros ($129.88 million) from European Space Agency (ESA), for an extended contract of ExoMars mission.

In the latest contract, the company will cover all programme activities till March 2011, which involves the mission’s Phase B2 (B2X2) and the second major segment of the programme’s development to prepare the production phase (advanced C/D).

The European Space Agency, in collaboration with NASA, will launch two Mars exploration missions in 2016 and 2018.

The ExoMars industrial team will carry out the System PDR (Preliminary Design Review) in autumn 2010, which will help to finalise the preliminary design and the spacecraft modules for the next development and production phase, starting in April 2011.

“In addition to ensuring programme continuity and making sure we stay on schedule, this contract extension will support continued work by the programme’s subcontractors and help us minimise the development risks of such a new and complex mission,” Vincenzo Giorgio, Director of Science Programs at Thales Alenia Space, said in a company news release.

ESA’s “Aurora” exploration programme consists of two different missions.

The first mission, scheduled to be launch in 2016, will study the Martian atmosphere and demonstrate the feasibility of several key technologies for the entry, descent, and landing phases, vital for the future human exploration of Mars.

It will also provide data relay for communications between Earth and the Martian rovers in subsequent missions.

The second mission, which is scheduled to be launched in 2018, includes a European rover capable of moving autonomously, taking samples of the soil down to a depth of two meters and analysing its chemical, physical, and biological properties.

Thales Alenia Space Italia is the industrial prime contractor for the ExoMars programme. It is responsible for the design of the Entry Descent Demonstrator Module (EDM) and the development of the Analytical Laboratory Drawer (ALD).

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NASA  Thales  ESA  Mars  
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