The French space agency, CNES, has signed the first of three planned contracts for the U.S.-French Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite, a mission in which the two governments plan to invest some $1.1 billion for a launch in 2021. The first contract, valued at 78 million euros ($94 million), was awarded to Thales Alenia Space of France for development of the SWOT satellite platform and its integration. Other contracts will follow for specific SWOT instruments.

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