Alphasat: Announcement of Opportunities

12 July 2005

The recent signing of the industrial contract with Alcatel Space and EADS Astrium for the development and procurement of the Alphabus satellite platform means that an opportunity exists for Operators, Service Providers and Industrial Groups to embark their payloads aboard Alphabus.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has recently signed a contract with Alcatel Space and EADS Astrium for the development and procurement of the Alphabus satellite platform. This platform will be capable of carrying a payload of about 1000 kg with power consumption up to 16 kW. The Alphabus platform (proto-flight model) will be ready for launch in 2010. The platform is the property of ESA.

ESA intends to use this unique opportunity to offer Operators, Service Providers and Industrial Groups (the potential Partners) the possibility to fly their payloads on board of the Alphabus proto-flight model under particularly favourable conditions.

These conditions are made up of two elements:

  1. availability of the satellite platform funded by ESA
  2. possible access to ESA R&D funding to cover part of the non-recurring costs of the payloads and associated communication systems. The remaining costs such as launch, insurance, recurring payload costs, platform integration/adaptations, etc. would be covered by the Partners.
The resulting mission (payloads + Alphabus proto-flight model) is called Alphasat. From ESA's perspective, Alphasat benefits will range from the creation of new satellite telecommunication services in ESA member states, to reinforcement of European industry's competitiveness and finally in-flight validation of the Alphabus platform. As introduced above, the capabilities of the platform permit the coexistence of several missions matched to requirements of different users.

Should you be interested in a potential participation in the programme, ESA should like to receive your expression of interest in writing by 9 September 2005 confirming as well your willingness to participate financially in line with the above principles.

Please submit your expression of interest at the following address:

  For the attention of Mr. G. Viriglio
  European Space Agency (ESA)
  Director of European Union and Industrial Programmes
  8-10, rue Mario-Nikis
  F-75738 Paris Cedex 15
  France
  E-mail: giuseppe.viriglio @ esa.int
  Fax: +33 1 5369 7445

If so requested, your expression of interest will be kept confidential by ESA. If found worthwhile pursuing, your expression of interest will trigger a bi-lateral meeting to discuss in more detail your potential requirements, constraints and the nature of your interest. ESA is prepared to enter into any Non Disclosure Agreement deemed necessary to allow both Parties to comfortably exchange information whilst still permitting the use of required information for the purpose specified hereafter.

On the basis of the responses received, the Agency intends to start a preparatory phase activity (Phase A) based on the selected payloads plus ESA's and interested National Agencies' own payloads. This preparatory phase will provide the necessary inputs to allow the Alphasat programme to start (and receive associated funding from Members and possibly other states) after the next ESA Council at Ministerial level, currently planned for December 2005. At that time, commitment from all selected Partners will be required according to the terms and conditions to be agreed.

Whilst we are confident of obtaining the necessary ESA approval and funding, we wish to clarify that no formal obligation whatsoever is assumed by the present Announcement of Opportunities or any subsequent act preceding the signature of a formal contract.

In order to facilitate the present phase of the programme development, ESA has already produced a document analysing in detail a number of potential missions. This document - available under 'Related links' on the right - can be used to gain an insight into the presently foreseen mission types and their requirements/capabilities. The document is informative only and the actual Alphasat programme will incorporate modifications and/or alternative missions reflecting the requirements of the Partners. In addition some potential partners might express an interest in sharing one or more missions.

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