The Thai government has announced it has selected Airbus to manufacture Theos-2, an earth observation satellite that will replace Theos (also known as Thaichote), the country’s first earth observation satellite launched in 2008.
Thailand’s space agency GISTDA confirmed that the deal took place on 15 June 2018, at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Suvit Maesincee, and Airbus’ CEO Thomas Enders.
Theos-2, which will be Thailand’s second earth observation satellite, was approved by the Thai cabinet in March 2017. According to the cabinet reports last year, the Thai government will be investing a total of 7,800 million THB (approximately US$238 million) into Theos-2, in hopes that it will reform and develop space-related industries in Thailand.
Although no details of the satellite have been revealed except that it will have a design life of 5 years, GISTDA has outlined a space technology plan which mentions an earth observation satellite with a maximum resolution of 50cm. GISTDA has also identified six areas that Theos-2 will be purposed for, in accordance with the cabinet decisions – water management, disaster management, national security, monitoring pollution and natural hazards, as well as urban and economic development.
In addition to Theos-2, Thailand hopes to develop an indigenous 100-kg satellite. So far, Thailand has developed two cubesats – university research satellite KNACKSAT and amateur radio JAISAT-1, both of which will be launched this year.
Theos, which Theos-2 will replace, was launched in 2008 on a Dnepr launcher. Part of a bilateral agreement with France, Theos was developed at EADS Astrium, which is now part of Airbus Defence and Space. The satellite had a liftoff mass of 750kg, and was launched into a Sun-Synchronous Orbit, from where it captured 2-m panchromatic and 15-m multispectral imagery.