PARIS — Eumetsat officials say Belgium, the only country that has not yet approved development of the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) weather satellite system, is poised to sign on, ending a two-month quest to finalize the €2.8 billion ($3.8 billion) program.
In early December the Eumetsat council OK’d full-scale development of the space segment of the system, which will replace the existing Meteosat Second Generation network starting in 2018. Development is subject to release of funds by Belgium and three other countries.
One, Portugal, OK’d funding for MTG in January, enabling Eumetsat to sign an authorization-to-proceed agreement with the team of Thales Alenia Space, OHB System and Astrium that will supply the space segment. Spain and Switzerland, the other two holdouts, have also approved release of program funds.
The exact workshare of Astrium, which joined the team after losing the prime contract, under pressure from the German government, will only be known once development receives full approval. Germany feared that Astrium’s ability to mount future bids for European weather satellite programs, which until now have always gone to Thales Alenia Space, would be jeopardized unless the scope was enlarged.
Ground segment and launch contracts remain to be awarded.