The Boeing Co. [BA] received a satellite launch contract from Thales Alenia Space, Boeing announced.

Boeing will launch the fourth satellite for the COSMO-SkyMed (Constellation of Small Satellites for Mediterranean basin Observation) program for Thales Alenia Space Italia, prime contractor of the Italian Space Agency.

The COSMO-SkyMed spacecraft is expected to be launched in 2010 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on a Delta II vehicle in the 7420-10 configuration.

Boeing Launch Services will procure the launch vehicle and related support from United Launch Alliance, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] joint venture.

To support a rapid initial operating capability, Boeing successfully launched the first three COSMO-SkyMed satellites from Vandenberg in 17 months, from June 2007 to October 2008.

Thales Alenia Space Italia developed the COSMO-SkyMed program for the Italian Space Agency and the Italian Ministry of Defense. It is an end-to-end Earth-observation system comprised of four medium-sized satellites and supporting ground stations, which provide orbit-control systems and data reception and processing. The system takes imagery of the Earth using an X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument capable of operating in all visibility conditions. Its institutional and commercial users include members of the civil, scientific and defense communities.