Alphasat is the biggest and most recent example of ESA’s public–private partnerships. PPPs are a large part of ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems programme, and allow industry to take on greater risk in order for Europe to reap the benefits of advanced satellite technology. This results in greater and more ambitious projects that provide maximum benefit with minimal cost and risk to the European taxpayer.
The Alphasat mission is a PPP between ESA and UK operator Inmarsat, with Astrium as the prime contractor. ESA teamed up with Inmarsat after an extensive selection process. The contract was signed in November 2007. The partnership provides ESA with an opportunity to validate the new Alphabus platform, as well as host four Technology Demonstration Payloads, and Inmarsat benefits by being able to add a powerful new satellite to its fleet. This increases the resiliency, capacity and diversity of its broadband services.
ESA is also conducting development activities for new services and terminal classes to be incorporated into Inmarsat’s portfolio for Alphasat.