- Satellite Evolution
Sitael signs contact with ESA: Will make hyperspectral satellite of Iris Constellation
SITAEL, Italy’s leading space company, and a wholly privately owned part of Angel Holding, which also develops high technology for the railway, aviation, and digital mechatronics sectors, has signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to supply four PLATiNO satellites with hyperspectral optical instrumentation made by Leonardo for the IRIDE Earth Observation Constellation.
The PLATiNO Hyperspectral constellation, which will aim to capture images of Italy and the Mediterranean area with high accuracy and a high refresh rate, will enable a wide range of applications useful to citizens and Public Administrations for environmental monitoring, water, soil, and air pollution as well as the prevention of fires and in general the risks associated with hydrogeological disruption, such as landslides and floods. The constellation will be an observation network to help counter the effects of climate change, an increasingly important activity in the overall vision of environmental sustainability, and a strategic driver of the Space Economy.
The four PLATiNO satellites will be made at SITAEL’s Mola di Bari plant and will embark on Leonardo’s latest generation hyperspectral optical instruments in Campi Bisenzio, Florence.
PLATiNO is a modular satellite platform made for the Italian Space Agency, which is all-electric, multifunctional, and adaptable to different missions: With its compact size, it has unique targeting performance and maneuvering agility as well as enables a variety of missions both in high-resolution Earth Observation and telecommunications, including optical. The electric propulsion, made by SITAEL with 100% Italian and proprietary technology, makes the PLATiNO product compatible with low orbits and extends each mission duration with minimal propellant consumption.
The hyperspectral PLATiNO satellites, whose construction will take 100 highly specialized engineers and physicists and 3 years of work, will begin operation in 2026.
The PLATiNO program-developed by SITAEL together with Thales Alenia Space (a joint venture between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%), Leonardo, and Airbus Italia through a technology development contract with the Italian Space Agency (ASI)-activates an important space business ecosystem in Italy, with large companies and more than 20 SMEs involved in its implementation, for a product made entirely in Italy.
Marco Molina, Managing Director of Sales and Products at SITAEL, said, “We are proud that ESA has recognized the value of PLATiNO - made for the Italian Space Agency - which in the IRIDE constellation is an opportunity to showcase SITAEL’s products and capabilities in Europe and around the world. When the PLATiNO hyperspectral satellites are in orbit, an additional strategic advantage will be realized by collecting and processing valuable data for environmental protection as well as emergency prevention and management. On behalf of SITAEL, I would like to express our appreciation for being chosen by ESA and our great pride in this achievement that was reached with commitment and determination.”
Simonetta Cheli, Director of Earth Observation programs at the European Space Agency and head of the ESRIN center in Frascati, also said, “I express my satisfaction with the signing of this contract with SITAEL. The Italian government has entrusted ESA with implementing the national earth observation constellation IRIDE, an innovative program strategic for Italy, in which SITAEL fits well. The first phase of this program is complete, all the contracts that are suitable for the program’s implementation have been signed, and we are particularly proud to have achieved this goal in line with the road map and coherence with the directives regarding PNRR funds.”
Giovanni Fuggetta, SVP Divisional of Space Business at Leonardo, commented, “We are proud to make available to the European Space Agency and IRIDE program partners Leonardo’s hyperspectral technology, an international excellence that is the result of skills and experience gained over the years thanks to the investment and foresight of the institutions and the Italian Space Agency.”