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Sofradir reaches for the sky

27 Jan 2010

Vendor to supply additional IR detectors for the European Earth observation mission GMES Sentinel-2

Sofradir, the French developer and manufacturer of advanced IR detectors, has been awarded an additional €2.5m contract to provide a second batch of 15 µm pitch multilinear shortwave infrared (SWIR) arrays for the space-borne Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative. GMES is a joint undertaking of the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The new order follows a previous €6.7m contract awarded to Sofradir by Astrium SAS, a supplier of satellite and space equipment, to custom-design a three-band SWIR for the GMES Sentinel-2 mission.

The IR detectors, based on Sofradir's mercury-cadmium-telluride (MCT) technology, are replacing a competing technology previously used in European space projects. The multilinear SWIR arrays are for the Multi-Spectral Instrument (MSI), an Earth observation system onboard each of the Sentinel-2 satellites.

Sofradir will start delivering flight models for the two Sentinel satellites by mid-2010. The company is involved in a growing number of satellite and space missions, covering applications such as Earth mapping, environment and disaster monitoring, meteorology and planet exploration.

Sofradir's MCT IR detectors are in orbit in the Helios IIA and IIB, French military Earth observation satellites, the latter of which was launched last December. Sofradir detectors are also being used on the ESA's Venus Express satellites and the French MOD's SPIRALE satellites.

"Getting the go-ahead to supply more IR detectors of this calibre for the Sentinel-2 satellite is a clear demonstration of the confidence our customers have in our products and marks another step forward for Sofradir in the space market," said Philippe Bensussan, chairman and CEO at Sofradir.

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