Alphasat backed by European Investment Bank

27 April 2010

The Alphasat telecommunications satellite, a joint project by ESA, the French space agency CNES and Inmarsat, has received up to €225 million of finance from the EU’s Risk-sharing Finance Facility through an agreement signed on 22 April in Brussels.

European Investment Bank (EIB) President Philippe Maystadt and Inmarsat Chief Operating Officer Perry Melton signed the agreement, in the presence of European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications (TIA), Magali Vaissiere.
 
Jointly created by the European Commission and EIB, the Risk-sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) improves access to research, development and innovation financing for both private companies and public institutions.
 
Alphasat, named Inmarsat-XL by Inmarsat, is the first satellite to be built using the new European high-power telecommunications platform known as Alphabus, which is being jointly developed by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space and initiated through a partnership between ESA and CNES. Launch is planned on an Ariane 5 in 2012.
 
ESA is contributing around €230 million through the provision of the Alphabus platform, as well as innovative developments on the mobile payload and the Technology Demonstration Payloads (TDPs).
 
Alphasat will extend the performance and the capacity of Inmarsat’s high-speed mobile data and voice communications services. It will be used by maritime, aeronautical and land mobile users in all kind of situations and will, among other applications, facilitate the work of medical and emergency services.
 
The satellite will be ‘open access’ for research organisations. It will carry four TDPs developed by several European universities, together with industrial and space organisations involved in various aspects of satellite communication systems.
 
The EIB is providing Inmarsat a loan of up to €225 million towards the construction and launch of Alphasat XL, which is expected to have a total cost of around €598 million. The loan is from the joint EC-EIB RSFF, backed by funds from the EU’s Seventh Research Framework Programme (€1 billion) and EIB’s own resources (€1 billion).
 
EIB President Philippe Maystadt said: “This confirms the EIB’s long-standing support to Europe’s space industry. This satellite will put European industry in a leading position in this segment and could bring significant spill-over effects for research and innovation in Europe. This is the type of investment the EIB intends to finance further under the EU-2020 initiative.”
 
ESA TIA Director Magali Vaissiere said: “Alphasat is the first large Public-Private Partnership that ESA has undertaken in the telecommunications area and we hope it will pave the way for future relationships with other operators. We expect this will also open the door for future relations with the EIB.”

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