EOSAT, Italian company sign imaging data accord

June 03, 1994|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Sun Staff Writer

LANHAM -- With the stroke of a pen, Earth Observation Satellite Co. went a long way yesterday toward making up any lost business when the federal government's $220 million Earth imaging satellite failed to achieve orbit last fall and fell into the ocean.

The Prince George's County company, known as EOSAT, signed an agreement for a joint venture with an Italian telecommunication company called Telespazio to place a ground station in Nairobi, Kenya, to provide satellite image data to eastern and southern African countries.

Ken Ferguson, EOSAT's director of sales in Africa, said the new service will help African nations solve food supply problems by providing more accurate crop yield estimates.

EOSAT collects satellite photo images and markets the data to government and business customers around the world. Landsat 6, the lost government satellite, was to replace two older satellites that are nearing the end of their useful lives.

Looking back on the failure of the Landsat 6 in October, EOSAT President and Chief Executive Arturo Silvestrini said, "It was a very bad day for us, but it was not the end of life."

He said the loss of Landsat 6 speeded the company's efforts to tap into other sources of satellite data around the world.

In February, the company signed an agreement with Indonesia to build a ground station to receive data from Landsat 5 for marketing in that part of the world.

A few weeks after the Landsat 6 failure, EOSAT reached an agreement with India to market data from its satellite. The agreement extends to a new satellite to be launched next year that will provide more detailed images than would have been available from the Landsat 6.

Mr. Silvestrini said EOSAT has also reached an agreement with Russia to market images collected from its spy satellites. Under terms of the agreement, EOSAT is to supply the computer equipment and scanners needed to put the images into a digital form for marketing throughout the globe.

EOSAT, a joint venture of Martin Marietta Corp. and Hughes Aircraft Co, was formed in 1985 as part of a move to turn government services over to private industry.

Mr. Silvestrini said the company's new international ventures are expected to double its sales over the next year.

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