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The Paz satellite: a defence and security solution provided by Airbus Defence and Space España

Airbus Defence and Space España signed a contract with Hisdesat on 6 November 2008 to develop and build the first Spanish Earth radar observation satellite Paz. The signing ceremony was attended by Spanish Defence Minister Carme Chacón.

Paz is one component of the Spanish National Earth Observation Programme. The budget for the Paz satellite is estimated at €160 million, and covers the flight and ground segments, as well as the launch. The Spanish Ministry of Defence will provide €135 million of the funding, whilst the company Hisdesat will finance the rest.


Given that the satellite will be used for multiple applications in the field of security and defence, and could have potential civil applications, its image acquisition functions will be extremely diverse.

The industrial framework is as follows:

 - Airbus Defence and Space España is the prime contractor, responsible for developing and building the satellite within a period of 48 months.

 - The Spanish National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA) will be responsible for the ground segment, which includes two control stations: one in Torrejón near Madrid and the other in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria.

- Hisdesat will be the satellite’s operator, responsible for all commercial exploitation. The Spanish Ministry of Defence will be one of Hisdesat’s main customers, and one of the main beneficiaries of the satellite’s capabilities.

The satellite will be capable of providing images in any type of weather conditions, day and night, and will primarily fulfil the security and defence needs of the Spanish government.


The satellite

  The Paz satellite will be equipped with an X-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) instrument, mounted on a TerraSAR-X recurrent platform, a hexagonal carbon-fibre structure. The TerraSAR-X platform will be provided by Airbus Defence and Space GmbH. The instrument’s radar antenna will incorporate printed-radiator technology developed by Airbus Defence and Space at its Madrid-Barajas site which has already been successfully used on other programmes such as Envisat, Spainsat, Inmarsat and Galileo.

The estimated mass of the satellite will be 1,200kg, and its solar array will generate power of 850W. The instrument’s printed-radiator planar phased-array radar will be 4.8m long and 0.7m wide. It will be designed to offer different modes of operation, with different swath widths, and various resolutions of up to a metre.

As satellite prime contractor, Airbus Defence and Space España is responsible for the systems engineering, as well as satellite integration and testing activities, satellite validation, and placing into orbit in a fully operational state.


The mission

 Among a whole host of other applications, the geo-information services to be provided by the mission will be used to enhance surveillance of Spanish territory and other parts of the globe, control of Spanish borders, operational capability of the Spanish armed forces, evaluation of natural disasters, and risk and crisis management.

Launch of the satellite is scheduled for 2012. Paz will then circle the Earth 15 times a day in a sun-synchronous polar orbit, at an altitude of 505km. From this position, the satellite will be able to supply an average of 200 images a day, and to cover an area of around 300,000km2.

It has been indicated that the satellite will also be used, for example, in the fight against piracy in the waters off Somalia – where a Spanish fishing boat was hijacked last summer – or for the monitoring and control of the illegal traffic of immigrants in Spanish waters. The operator Hisdesat has also stated that the satellite will provide services to Spanish embassies, the Ministry of the Interior, the ocean research vessel Hespérides, and to various other countries such as the United States, Mexico, Belgium and Denmark.


An investment for the future

 The other satellite in the Spanish National Earth Observation Programme is Ingenio, financed by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, for which Airbus Defence and Space España is also the prime contractor. This second satellite will have an optical instrument and will mainly serve a civil purpose. The Spanish National Earth Observation Programme will help to improve the natural resource management, the fight against climate change, infrastructure planning, and control and monitoring of natural disasters such as forest fires. The programme will give Spain a fully independent operational satellite observation capability.

This programme consolidates Airbus Defence and Space España’s predominance as the Spanish satellite prime contractor. “We have come a long way,” said Airbus Defence and Space España’s CEO Pedro Méndez, “since we began development of the Minisat-01 satellite in 1995, through our more recent first-rate performance building the instrument for the SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) mission, to get to where we are now: recognised as the premier Spanish company for complete systems activities.”

The Spanish National Earth Observation Programme will provide returns for Spanish industry worth €70 million, allowing many of the Spanish companies involved in the programme to acquire new capabilities that will make them more competitive on the global space market. The programme will create 1,000 highly skilled jobs.

From 2012, the two satellites together will provide high-resolution imaging coverage of any point on the Earth every 24 hours. Spain will become the first European country to have a dual-use (optical and radar) observation system serving both civil and military purposes.

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