Astrium UK to build next gen atmospheric sentinel

Astrium UK to build next gen atmospheric sentinel
Astrium UK has been contracted to build a major European satellite to monitor atmospheric composition.

The Sentinel 5 Precursor (S5P) spacecraft, expected to launch in 2015, will engage in an Earth observation mission to monitor atmospheric chemistry under a €45.5million (£39m) contract with the European Space Agency (ESA).

"The S5P mission is fantastic news for Astrium as it was won in open competition in a tough environment," said Colin Paynter, head of Astrium UK. "The mission will ensure that Europe retains the ability to monitor atmospheric pollutants before the Sentinel-5 instrument becomes operational."

Measuring just 1m tall and 1.5m across, the hexagonal satellite will have three solar arrays and is expected to last for 10 years. It is the first ESA commissioned satellite to be primed out of the UK for seven years.

The €45.5m contract was signed on Wednesday evening by ESA's director general, UK Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, and David Williams, ceo of the UK Space Agency.

Laura Hopperton

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