Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space wins satellite contract worth €263 million

The contract worth € 263 million was signed today in Berlin on the occasion of the International Aerospace Exhibition (ILA) by Volker Liebig, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation, Evert Dudok, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space and Uwe Minne, Director of Earth Observation and Science at Airbus Defence and Space (Friedrichshafen, Germany), in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and Head of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) Johann-Dietrich Wörner.

  • Agreement signed at International Aerospace Exhibition ILA
  • EarthCARE is ESA’s sixth Explorer project for “Living Planet"
  • Environmental satellite keeps an eye on clouds, aerosols and radiation

EarthCARE (Earth Clouds, Aerosols and Radiation Explorer) will focus on clouds, tiny particles in the atmosphere – aerosols – and their influence on atmospheric radiation. Among other things, EarthCARE will draw up vertical profiles of natural and man-made aerosols, register the distribution of water and ice and their transport by clouds, and investigate the interrelationships between clouds and precipitation and their effects on radiation. It will be possible to derive profiles of atmospheric heating and cooling by clouds from a combination of the measured aerosols and “cloud elements”.

“The role of aerosols in cloud formation and the interaction with radiation is not completely understood by science but plays an important role in climate and weather modelling. This is why the EarthCARE proposal was selected” said ESA’s Earth Observation Director Dr. Volker Liebig.

EarthCARE will thus contribute to a better understanding of our climate and deliver valuable data for the numerical forecasting models of climate researchers and meteorologists. Weighing around 1.7 metric tons, the satellite is scheduled to lift off into space in September 2013. EarthCARE will spend three years taking measurements from a polar orbit (97° inclination) at an altitude of about 400 kilometres.

“By offering an innovative and future-oriented range of products, Airbus Defence and Space is helping to achieve a better understanding of Earth’s sensitively balanced ecosystem and encourage people to treat it with greater care,” said Airbus Defence and Space CEO Evert Dudok to journalists in Berlin. “The experience and know-how gained from projects such as EarthCARE or the recently awarded contracts for the Sentinel family of satellites and the polar-orbiting weather satellite Metop give us an excellent basis and serve as a reference for future tasks such as the third generation of Meteosat satellites.”

Airbus Defence and Space (Friedrichshafen, Germany) will be responsible for the industrial management of EarthCARE and the integration and test activities. The satellite is equipped with four instruments, two passive and two active sensors that will supply a unique data package with only one satellite mission. Airbus Defence and Space (Toulouse, France) will supply the active laser instrument ATLID, while the platform (Airbus Defence and Space), the Multi-Spectral Imager MSI (SSTL) and the Broadband Radiometer BBR (SEA) are being produced in the UK. The fourth instrument is the Cloud Profiling Radar CPR, which will be supplied by the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA.

Airbus Defence and Space and the Earth Explorer

EarthCARE is the sixth Earth Explorer mission to be launched by ESA as part of its “Living Planet” Earth exploration programme. It is being implemented jointly with the Japanese space agency JAXA. Airbus Defence and Space is the prime industrial contractor.

Airbus Defence and Space also plays an important part in the other satellites for Earth Explorer missions that are currently under construction. Airbus Defence and Space (Friedrichshafen) is prime contractor for the ice investigation satellite Cryosat-2 and the three-satellite Swarm mission to investigate the Earth’s magnetic field. It is also supplying the platform for the Goce mission to measure the Earth’s gravitational field. Airbus Defence and Space UK is the prime contractor for the ADM-Aeolus wind mission, for which Airbus Defence and Space France is developing the Aladin instrument. Airbus Defence and Space Spain is developing and building the Miras payload for the SMOS mission to study soil moisture and ocean salinity.

About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2007, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €3.5 billion and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, and Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment, and its wholly owned subsidiary Airbus Defence and Space for the development and delivery of satellite services.

AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2007, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €39.1 billion and employed a workforce of more than 116, 000.


Media Contacts:

Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR) Phone: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK) Phone: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872

Mathias Pikelj (Airbus Defence and Space GER) Phone: +49 (0) 162 29 49 666

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP) Phone: +34 (0) 91 586 37 41


EarthCARE at a glance:


Service life in orbit: 3 years (optional extension by 1 year)

Orbit: Polar (97°), sun-synchronous DN
Altitude 400 km

Repetition rate:
25 days

Scheduled launch: September 2013


Satellite type: 3-axis stabilised

Launch weight: 1.7 metric tons

Solar generator: Single wing with 5 panels, 17 m², 2500 W (EOL),
GaAs triple-junction cells

Battery: Li-ion 180 Ah


ATLID -Atmospheric Lidar for vertical profiles of aerosols and thin clouds

MSI -Multispectral Imager for horizontal structures of clouds and aerosols

BBR -Broadband Radiometer to capture radiation in the upper atmosphere

CPR -Cloud Profiling Radar for vertical profiles of water and ice in the clouds

Earth ObservationMeteorologyEarthCAREClimate