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Alcatel Alenia Space signs a 147 million euro contract to deploy 25 antennas for ALMA project in Chile


Paris, December 7, 2005 - Alcatel Alenia Space has signed a 147 million euro contract with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) to supply twenty-five antennas for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) project. The ALMA project is aimed at setting up an array of radio-telescopes to study the origins of galaxies and the formation of stars from Chile. When completed, ALMA will be the largest and most capable imaging array of telescopes in the world.

Alcatel Alenia Space is leading a consortium of manufacturers from France, Italy and Germany, representing the European contribution to the project. This contract covers the design, manufacture, transport and on-site integration of the twenty-five 12-meter (39-feet) wide antennas in the Atacama desert (foothills of Chile’s Andes mountains) in Northern Chile.

The ALMA project is an international partnership between Europe, North America and Japan, in collaboration with Chile. ALMA will enable the most sensitive radio-telescope network in the world to collect information in millimetric and sub-millimetric wavelengths. All of these antennas will work together as if they were a single telescope, using the interferometry principle to provide spatial resolution ten times better than the Hubble space telescope.

The project started with the manufacture and validation of three prototype antennas, operating in the 30 to 950 GHz bandwidths, delivered respectively by the United States, Europe and Japan. Following the scientific evaluation of the prototype provided by Europe, Alcatel Alenia Space signed a contract for the supply of twenty-five antennas and their installation in Chajnantor, at an altitude of 5,000 meters (about 16,400 ft) on the Atacama desert in Chile. The deployment will last until 2011.

The ALMA project is a very daunting technical challenge, since the antenna surface accuracy must be within 25 microns, the pointing accuracy within 0.6 arc seconds, and the antennas must be able to be moved over a distance of 10 kilometers, and offer Sun-sighting capability. The observation array will cover more than 7,000 square meters (about 75,600 sq ft).

Pascale Sourisse, President and CEO of Alcatel Alenia Space, said: “We would like to thank ESO for trusting us to take on this new challenge. We are bringing to the table not only our recognized expertise in antenna development, but also our long-standing experience in coordinating consortiums in charge of complex, high-performance ground systems.”

About Alcatel Alenia Space
Alcatel Alenia Space, leader in satellite systems and at the forefront of orbit infrastructures, brings together the vast experience and know-how of Alcatel Space and Alenia Spazio to form a new leading force in European space technology. Alcatel Alenia Space represents a worldwide standard for space development that impacts everybody’s future: from navigation to telecommunications, from meteorology to environmental monitoring, from defence to science and observation. An affiliate of Alcatel (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%), Alcatel Alenia Space generated an estimated turnover of 1.8 billion euros with around 7,200 people in 2004.

About Alcatel
Alcatel provides communications solutions to telecommunication carriers, Internet service providers and enterprises for delivery of voice, data and video applications to their customers or employees. Alcatel brings its leading position in fixed and mobile broadband networks; applications and services, to help its partners and customers build a user-centric broadband world. With sales of EURO 12.3 billion and 56,000 employees in 2004, Alcatel operates in more than 130 countries.


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