Thailand’s head of the National Council for Peace and Order, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, is expected to make a U.S.$215 million order for the Thailand Earth Observation Satellite (THEOS)-II with French satellite manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space during a visit to France on 25 June 2018, according to a diplomatic source in Bangkok who spoke to Agence France-Presse.
“The negotiation for the contract of the satellite THEOS-II has succeeded. It is not a military satellite, it was developed to check on agriculture and coastal erosion,” said the diplomatic source quoted by AFP.
General Prayut Chan-o-cha is also expected to visit the Airbus facilities in Toulouse on 22 June 2018, after he has completed a visit to the United Kingdom. AFP were unable to receive a confirmation from Airbus about their report on the alleged THEOS-II satellite deal, but it is expected that the company will make an official announcement on the day that the order is made.
The THEOS-II satellite will be a civil high-resolution remote sensing satellite that is expected to replace THEOS-I that was launched in 2008, and also built by Airbus Defence and Space. THEOS-II, like THEOS-I, will be operated by the Thai space agency, the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA). THEOS-I ended operations in 2015.
Airbus was selected to build THEOS-II by the Thai cabinet on 6 February 2018. “The advanced technology of THEOS-II will help the country verify and manage big data regarding agriculture and land management to serve the government’s policy on smart farming and smart cities, including technology transfer to strengthen the country’s space industry development,” said Prajin Juntong, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and head of the National Space Policy Committee, at the time of that cabinet decision.
Like THEOS-I, THEOS-II will be expected to play a critical part in Thailand’s natural resources and agricultural policies since the Earth observation capability has proven effective for land and water management, climate change monitoring, and agricultural developments.