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Paris, 21 June 2005


PR 43/2005


France and Israel have decided to work together on an Earth observation and technology development programme called VENµS (Vegetation and Environment monitoring on a New Micro-Satellite).

Yannick d'Escatha, President of the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), and Zvi Kaplan, Director General of the Israel Space Agency (ISA), signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect on 12 April at CNES headquarters.

VENµS is a research demonstrator mission geared toward delivering effective and optimised multispectral observation services for the GMES programme (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security). It will cover every two days 50 sites representative of the world’s main terrestrial and coastal ecosystems in 12 spectral bands in the visible and near-infrared.

The VENµS technology mission will also develop an innovative low-thrust stationkeeping system using electric propulsion to complement conventional hydrazine propulsion.

France will be responsible for the science mission centre, science data processing centre, programming centre and camera payload. These facilities will be located at CNES’s Toulouse Space Centre. CNES also plans to subcontract development and construction of the multispectral camera to Israeli company El-Op, Elbit Ltd.

Israel will be responsible for the spacecraft bus (including the hybrid propulsion system), camera integration, engineering data, the control centre and mirror data processing centre. The Israeli government, in close cooperation with industry, is funding the Israeli share of the mission. Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and RAFAEL are closely involved in development of the microsatellite and in operating it once in orbit.

ISA is now finalizing internal procedures to reflect the MoU signed in April. The CNES Board of Directors gave the go-ahead for phases B, C, D and E of the VENµS programme on 16 June 2005, with a maximum funding envelope of €22.5 million (full cost).

VENµS is the first satellite developed jointly by the two agencies and will be operational in 2008.

Press Contacts:

CNES - Sandra Laly: Phone +33 (0)1 44 76 77 32
ISA - Adi Tzirlin: Phone +972 (0)3 6367200