December 11, 2009

UK Weather Shuttle Construction Decision Postponed

The decision of who will construct the next generation of weather satellites, or Meteosats, for Europe has been postponed three months.
The Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) program will cost about $5 billion in all, and should guarantee space-borne weather information until 2040.

Thales Alenia Space of France and EADS Astrium of Germany are competing to head the satellites' enlargement. The European Space Agency wants more time to review the qualities of both teams before it comes to a decision.

"Both are good but both have weaknesses, and we want to give both constructors the opportunity to improve," said Volker Liebig, the agency's executive of Earth observation, to BBC News. "We will ask them to deliver by the end of January their new reports, in time for our Industrial Policy Committee in March."

The Paris-based group will head the research and expansion part of the MTG venture. This includes two sample Meteosats: an imaging craft and a sounding craft.

Another organization, Eumetsat, will manage them once they are off the ground and will fund any follow-ups. It has been predicted that the MTG program will include six satellites total, sent away one at a time during the years of service.

The Meteosat series began in 1977. At present, two crafts offer the information for daily weather forecasts in Europe.

Eumetsat is leading a council meeting in March to converse about MTG, and their goal is to propose the industrial group for the space section before that meeting.


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