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Italy’s new constellation of innovative and flexible Earth observation satellites to monitor Italy and Europe

ROME, 28 March 2023 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/- Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%),  has won contracts from the European Space Agency (ESA) to supply a first batch of six small satellites with  synthetic aperture radars (SAR) and one satellite based on optical technology for the Italian Earth observation  constellation, IRIDE. This innovative new constellation, based on a number of different sensing instruments  and technologies, will range from microwave radar imaging to optical sensors at various spatial resolutions  and in different frequency ranges, thus becoming a pioneering space program in Earth Observation. 

The contract for the six SAR satellites is worth €112 million and includes an option on a second group of four satellites, worth €75 million. The optical satellite contract is worth €30 million, and includes an option on an  additional satellite for €19 million. 

3d rendering, Europe – Africa. Photorealistic globe with lots of details.

The satellites will be built in Italy under the responsibility of Thales Alenia Space and thanks to the contribution  of the entire supply chain of SMEs in the space sector. It will provide valuable data not only to researchers  studying the evolution of the environmental conditions of Italy but also to the Civil Protection and other Public  administrations to counter hydrogeological instability and fires, protect coasts, monitor critical infrastructures,  air quality and weather conditions. Finally, IRIDE will provide analytical data for the development of  commercial applications by start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises and industries in the geospatial  sector. 

Both the radar and optical satellites are built on the modular NIMBUS (New Italian Micro Bus) platform,  weighing about 170 kilograms. Built by Thales Alenia Space, the high-performance NIMBUS can be produced  rapidly and is designed for high-revisit and high-capacity constellations. The optical payload is being  developed by the Italian companies Media Lario and TDS, specialized in the creation of instruments and  electronics for space.  

IRIDE is a government project funded by Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), managed  by ESA in conjunction with the Italian space agency ASI. Scheduled for completion by 2026, IRIDE features  a hybrid constellation of different satellites with dedicated Earth observation sensors. This end to end system comprises a series of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite sub-constellations, ground infrastructures (downstream) and services dedicated to Italian public administration. 

“I would like to thank the European and Italian space agencies for once again entrusting Thales Alenia Space  competences and expertise,” said Massimo Comparini, Senior Executive Vice President, Observation,  Exploration, and Navigation at Thales Alenia Space. “Building on our contributions to major Earth observation  programs, we are now a key player in this ambitious new project, which entails the creation of a unique,  innovative and entirely Italian constellation. We are delighted to be tackling a new challenge that paves the  way for the development of new capabilities, especially the design and production of small and medium-sized  satellites, which are key to the ‘New Space’ economy.” 

“The European Space Agency is delighted for the signature of this contract” said Simonetta Cheli, Director  of Earth Observation Programs at ESA and head of the ESRIN center in Frascati. “The Italian government  has entrusted us with the task of implementing this particularly challenging and innovative program, and with  

the signature of this contract, in addition to those signed in the past weeks, we are close to the full definition  of the IRIDE constellation and in line with the roadmap that will allow ESA to reach the first milestone of the  program, scheduled for the end of March. This is a very important milestone, given that the program is largely  financed by PNRR funds. Congratulations to the Thales Alenia Space team for this important contribution to  the IRIDE system. We firmly believe that, by integrating national and European assets, the IRIDE system will  make Italy more competitive than ever in the Earth Observation sector.”  

These innovative satellites also feature sophisticated operating modes to support high revisit rates, providing  data that can be integrated with that from other existing or future programs and infrastructures, including  COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation and Prisma, as well as Europe’s vast Copernicus Earth observation  program.

Distribué par African Media Agency (AMA) pour Thales.

About Thales Alenia Space

Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital  infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide  anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A  joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent  companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of  approximately 2.2 billion euros in 2022 and has around 8,500 employees in 10 countries with 17 sites in Europe and a plant in the US.

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Source : African Media Agency (AMA)



GIW 2.0: Strengthening Ecosystems Through Successful Cross-Border Connections Program

TUNIS, Tunisia, 28 March 2023,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/-Open Startup (OST) successfully concluded the second edition of the Global Immersion Week (GIW), a week-long event aimed at connecting different ecosystem players from countries in Africa and the Middle East to bridge ecosystems and foster cross-region collaboration through innovation, openness, and exchange.

This GIW 2.0 is a significant milestone in reinforcing OST’s mission to foster cross-regional collaboration and knowledge exchange among innovators. It provided an opportunity for startups, ecosystem builders, investors, and stakeholders to discover new perspectives, forge new relationships, and learn from one another, contributing to the growth and development of the MEA startup ecosystem.

From March 13th to 17th, 14 startups, 25 ecosystem builders, investors, and stakeholders from more than 5 countries gathered for a series of engaging panel discussions, networking events, and site visits, counting pitching and talk sessions delivered by Africinvest, the “Meet & Mix” sessions aiming to connect Tunisian entrepreneurs with regional ones, and more.

The Global Immersion Week also welcomed the delegation from Columbia Engineering and Business School, New York and Legatum Center of Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT, and MIT Executive MBA Program.

During the week-long event, sub-events dedicated to tech savvies and different ecosystem players, and led by top leaders: OST Tech Night- a tech event showcasing the tech landscape in the region, a Deep Dive session about Ecosystems in Africa, delivered by Abdou Chaoui, a panel covering Investment opportunities in Africa, delivered by Michel Amsalem, Diego Arias, Julio Mupemba, and Ioto Iovo, and a session presenting Columbia Global Centers in Amman and its impact, delivered by Ahmad Al Mousa.

During the ceremony, OST CEO, Houda Ghozzi presented OST’s strategy and its 4 main pillars for the upcoming 3 years: (1) more regional activities, (2) focus on advanced startups through OST Grow (its investment readiness program), (3) focus on Deeptech in Africa through the Brain program, and finally, (4) Community building. As she explained “ In our region of the world, supporting startups cannot be intrinsically about entrepreneurs and their ventures. Without regional understanding and openness, startups are quickly confronted with narrow markets, resources, networks, and ambitions. That is one of the reasons why OST focuses on fostering cross-boundary partnership through joint interest, alignment and trust”.

She added, “ We would like to thank all the startups from around the Region who joined us this week and all the partners and speakers who supported the event. Without their support and contributions, the event would not have been possible.”

Martin Ewald, Lead Portfolio Manager Impact Investing, Allianz Global Investors “We are thrilled to be working with and being able to support a partner as dedicated and as professional as OST to developing the start-up ecosystem in Africa “

OST is grateful for all the partners who supported the organization’s mission, including AfricaGrow Technical Assistance Facility which is funded by the German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation through KfW, Drosos Foundation, Columbia Engineering, Columbia Business School, U.S. Embassy Tunis, AfricInvest Group, Columbia Global Centers l Amman, Columbia Global Centers I Tunis, Innov’i – EU4Innovation, Union européenne en Tunisie, France Expertise, and The Dot. OST is also grateful for the trust of its BRAIN partners: Africa Grow, Legatum Center of Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT, MIT Executive MBA Program, MIT Africa,The US embassy, Africinvest, IFC, Instadeep and Digital Africa.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of OST.

About OST

Open Startup (OST) is a non-profit organization serving as a regional hub for startups in North Africa and the Middle East. OST’s mission is to foster entrepreneurship and innovation by providing access to resources, networks, and mentorship across continents. Through its various programs, OST supports startups and entrepreneurs in building and scaling their businesses, driving economic growth and job creation in the region.

OST is in partnership with Columbia Engineering, Columbia Business School, U.S. Embassy Tunis, Africa Grow, AfricInvest Group, Columbia Global Centers I Tunis, Columbia Global Centers l Amman, Drosos Foundation, Innov’i – EU4Innovation, Union européenne en Tunisie, France Expertise, and The Dot.

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Source : African Media Agency (AMA)