ESA and Airbus Defence and Space agreed today to press ahead with building the Eurostar Neo range, aiming for a first launch in 2019.
Magali Vaissiere, heading ESA’s telecommunications effort, commented: “ESA’s Neosat is pioneering new technologies to meet the needs of the satcom market.
“By offering maximum flexibility whilst remaining competitive, Europe can maintain its lead worldwide.”
Neosat aims to help European satellite builders capture at least half of the world’s market for satellites in the 3–6 tonne range, and reduce the cost of a satellite in orbit by 30% compared with today’s designs by the end of the decade.
Airbus meets Neosat’s programme objectives with Eurostar Neo, offering a suite of competitive solutions for the operator to choose from. For example, it can carry up to three 2.6 m-diameter antennas on both sides to handle multiple missions. The more stable platform allows narrow ‘spot’ radio beams to point at customers with greater accuracy.
The structure of the platform provides the flexibility to accommodate a spectrum of small and large payloads drawing up to 25 kW, supported by efficient power and thermal control.
The Eurostar Neo design offers the choice of three propulsion systems. Traditional liquid-propellant rocket thrusters provide the greatest push, to arrive via the fastest route to its final operating orbit. By contrast, ion thrusters that work by accelerating an electrically charged gas are the most fuel-efficient but the journey to geostationary orbit takes longer. A hybrid version combines the two.
The Eurostar Neo is designed to be compatible with all commercially available launchers. Operators will have the option to select the best match of satellite propulsion to launcher price and performance.
In addition, Airbus aims to substantially shorten the standard production schedule.
The contract for full development was signed at ESA headquarters in Paris by Mrs Vassiere and Eric Béranger, head of space systems programmes at Airbus Defence and Space, in the presence of Jan Woerner, ESA’s Director General.
Mr Béranger commented: “This contract allows us to build on our proven track record with all-electric, high-capacity satellites to introduce even more power and capability with our Eurostar Neo satellite platform line.”
Neosat is part of ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems programme, ARTES and is developed in cooperation with France’s CNES space agency.
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