credits Eads Astrium - source defense.gouv.fr
October 10, 2011 defpro.com
Earth observation military satellite contract increases Sofradir’s achievements in supplying state-of-the-art IR detectors for space
Paris, France | Sofradir, a leading developer and manufacturer of advanced infrared detectors for military, space and industrial applications, announces today that it has been awarded a multi-million Euro contract to manufacture Infrared (IR) detectors for the engineering and flight model phases for the MUSIS/CSO next generation Earth observation military satellites. These satellites will replace the current Helios 2 observational system.
Within the framework of the four-year MUSIS/CSO contract, Sofradir will deliver to Thalès Alenia Space France (TAS-F), a leading worldwide manufacturer of satellite and space equipment, high resolution custom design IR focal plane arrays for the optical imaging cameras. The exact value of the contract was undisclosed.
“After our successful involvement in the satellites Helios IIA and IIB, launched in 2004 and 2009 respectively, Sofradir is proud to be part of the MUSIS/CSO project and have the continued confidence of the French MoD and TAS,” said Philippe Bensussan, chairman and CEO at Sofradir. “Our expertise in developing state-of-the-art IR detectors for Earth observation applications will be further strengthened through this collaboration. We look forward to other opportunities to make our MCT IR detectors that operate reliably in harsh environments available for other challenging space projects in Europe and around the world.“
The CSO (Optical Space Component) is the French government’s contribution to the future MUSIS (MUltinational Spacebased Imaging System) that will include optical and radar space components. Astrium, a leading aerospace company, is the prime contractor for the CSO satellite development contract. The French space agency CNES awarded the contract to Astrium in 2010. CNES was delegated by the French procurement agency DGA to manage the project.
Sofradir first became involved in MUSIS/CSO in 2005, when it carried out a feasibility study and preliminary development of the IR detectors. Sofradir will complete delivery of all the IR detectors by 2015. These are based on Sofradir’s Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT) technology, a highly complex semiconductor material that is unavailable to all but a few manufacturers in the world because it is tricky to master.
MCT IR technology
Sofradir has worked with Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT/HgCdTe) IR technology for 25 years. It is the only MCT IR manufacturer in the world, outside the US, to produce 4,000 – 4,500 units per year. This high volume provides two advantages: The ability to reproduce consistently IR detectors that exhibit the high levels of performance required for space applications. The high volume also generates an enormous amount of performance and reliability data, a valuable asset and prerequisite for guaranteeing product performance and reliability. Space contractors benefit from the continual improvements and innovation gained from this data.