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Thai Junta Splurges on Multi-Million Dollar “Observation Satellite” from Airbus



BANGKOK – Thailand’s Junta Chief Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-O-Cha will secure the purchase of a $215 million observation satellite from Airbus during his trip to France this month, a diplomatic source said Friday, as Europe re-engages with the kingdom following a chill in relations after a 2014 coup.

Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who toppled an elected government four years ago, will stop in Britain and France next week for meetings with political and business leaders.

The trip comes after the European Union agreed to resume official contacts with Thailand in December, ending a more than three-year suspension put in place after Prayut’s May 2014 coup installed the country’s most authoritarian government in a generation.

European aviation giant Airbus is expected to announce the sale of the Theos-II satellite while Gen.Prayut pays a visit to French President Emmanuel Macron on June 25, according to a diplomatic source in Bangkok.

“The negotiation for the contract of the satellite Theos-II has succeeded,” the source told AFP.

“It is not a military satellite, it was developed to check on agriculture and coastal erosion,” the source added.

Airbus, which built Thailand’s first satellite Theos in 2008, could not be reached for comment.

General Prayut will also meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London on June 20, before he heads to France for a trip that includes a stop at Airbus assembly lines in Toulouse on June 22.

France is the second largest exporter to Thailand behind Germany and Britain, with more than half of its exports in the “aircraft and spacecraft” sector.

By Agence France-Presse


The THEOS Satellite:

The THEOS satellite is based on the new generation of EADS Astrium Optical Earth Observation high performance satellites using the medium-sized AstroSat-500 platform. In particular, the spacecraft design/structure is of FormoSat-2 (formerly ROCSat-2) heritage, a spacecraft built by EADS for NSPO of Taiwan with a launch on May 20, 2004

The THEOS satellite consists of two parts, the payload for the imaging (with cameras and associated electronics) and the bus, in charge of all service functions. The bus structure is of size: 2.1 m x 2.1 m x 2.4 m (height). The satellite is three-axis stabilized. The upper deck of the platform carries the payload and also the attitude sensing devices of AOCS (Attitude and Orbit Control Subsystem), namely the star and sun sensors, gyroscopes, and GPS receiver. The lower deck contains the actuation devices: magnetic torquer, the four reaction wheels and the autonomous propulsion module.

The fixed solar array uses GaAs cells and consists of two deployable flaps providing a power of 840 W. The entire S/C architecture is designed in such a way as to provide a low roll inertia, a key factor for satellite agility and instrument line-of-sight stability. The S/C is very agile providing a body-pointing capability of ±45o in roll and pitch (45o pitch in 60 s, 10o roll in 25 s, 30o roll in 60 s, respectively). The S/C wet mass is about 750 kg with 82 kg of hydrazine propellant mass. The design life is five years or better.

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