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Safety & Security

N° 7–2014: Neosat boosting Europe’s telecommunications by satellite

20 February 2014

ESA is forging ahead with the Neosat next-generation satcom platform, planning the first flights within five years. The goal is for European satellite builders to capture at least half of the world’s satcom market in 2018–30 through innovation and efficiency, generating €25 billion in sales.

The contract for Phase-B of Neosat was signed today by Magali Vaissiere, ESA’s Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, and Eric Béranger and Bertrand Maureau for prime contractors Airbus Defence and Space, and Thales Alenia Space, respectively.

The signing took place today at ESA Headquarters in Paris.

Magali Vaissiere commented: “Neosat will foster the competitiveness of European satellite industry and strengthen Europe’s position in the core satcom market for the next decade.

“This is a unique opportunity for Europe’s suppliers, as 80% of European satellite platform equipment is procured from within ESA Member States. This will be worth €7 billion to those suppliers.”

The contract signed today covers selection of the equipment suppliers for the Neosat product lines. The two co-primes will run competitions between equipment suppliers for platform building blocks, based on an agreed single set of requirements.

The winners of these competitions will become part of the industrial consortium for developing the two platform lines, one led by Airbus Defence and Space, the other by Thales Alenia Space.

The upcoming phase will include concurrent engineering activities to define the technical baseline of the new platforms and involve subcontractors in the UK, Sweden, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

Technologies to be investigated for the future platforms include orbit raising by electric propulsion, new thermal control concepts and next-generation battery cells.

The Neosat prime contractors have activities in France and in the UK, both countries being major contributors to Neosat.

The contract for Phase-B is expected to last around 13 months. The subsequent Phase-C/D will start in 2015 for the development and manufacture of the first two prototype flight platforms, launch in 2018–19 and in-orbit demonstration under a public–private partnership to be established with satellite operators.

About Neosat

Neosat is part of ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems programme (ARTES), and aims at developing, qualifying and validating in orbit next-generation satellite platforms for the core satcom market.

A crucial objective for Neosat is to reduce the cost of a satellite in orbit by 30% compared with today’s designs by the end of the decade. Existing and new technologies will be used in innovative ways and to achieve economies of scale by creating a common supply chain for both satellite prime contractors.

Neosat will be optimised for electric propulsion – both for raising the satellite into its final orbit after separation from its launcher, and for maintaining its operating position. Electric thrusters use significantly less propellant than traditional thrusters to reach the same destination.

The Neosat product lines will offer the option of all-electric, hybrid electric/chemical and all-chemical propulsion versions.

In the hybrid and all-chemical versions, the telecommunications operator will have the flexibility to speed-up orbit-raising using chemical propellants – a manoeuvre that could take a few months by electric propulsion alone

Neosat is based on cooperation between ESA and France’s CNES space agency, and managed by a joint ESA–CNES team.

1964–2014: 50 years serving European cooperation and innovation

In 1964, the Conventions of the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) and the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) entered into force. A little more than a decade later, the European Space Agency (ESA) was established, taking over from these two organisations.

2014 will be dedicated to addressing the future in the light of these 50 years of unique achievements in space, which have put ESA among the leading space agencies in the world.

The motto ”serving European cooperation and innovation” underlines how much ESA, together with the national delegations from its 20 Member States, space industry, the scientific community and more recently the EU, has made a difference for Europe and its citizens.

Fifty years of European cooperation in space is an anniversary for the whole space sector in Europe, which can be proud of its results and achievements. It is a testimony that when Member States share the same challenging objectives and join forces, Europe is at the leading edge of progress, innovation and growth, for the benefit of all citizens.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU.

ESA has Cooperation Agreements with eight other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

ESA is also working with the EU to implement the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

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