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N° 4–2017: SmallGEO’s first flight reaches orbit

28 January 2017

ESA’s new small telecom platform was launched on its first mission in the early hours of this morning.

The Hispasat 36W-1 satellite, based on the SmallGEO platform, lifted off on a Soyuz rocket at 01:03 GMT this morning from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

SmallGEO is Europe’s response to the market demand for more flexible, modular telecommunications platforms. It marks the first time the German satellite manufacturing company OHB System AG have been the prime contractor for a telecommunications satellite mission. Its Hispasat payload marks the first ESA partnership with a Spanish operator.

The three-tonne satellite was released by Soyuz into its transfer orbit 29 minutes after liftoff this morning. It will now use its own thrusters to make its way to its final destination over the course of the next few weeks.

It is heading towards ‘geostationary’ orbit at an altitude of 36 000 km over the equator, where it will take a day to circle Earth and therefore appear to hang over the same point, in this case at 36°W over the Atlantic Ocean.

OHB will test the satellite’s health and performance, making sure the sensitive technology made it unscathed through the violence of the launch.

After all is deemed well, they will hand the control over to Hispasat and the satellite will begin providing broadband services to Europe, South America and the Canary Islands.

“The launch of this first SmallGEO platform marks another major success for ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems, known as ARTES, which aims to boost the competitiveness of its Member State industry through innovation,” noted Magali Vaissiere, ESA’s Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications.

“SmallGEO is part of our continuous efforts to strengthen the position of European and Canadian industry in the commercial telecommunications market, expanding the current range of available products.

“The next satellite based on SmallGEO will be EDRS-C, as the second node to the European Data Relay System.”

Carlos Espinós Gómez, CEO of Hispasat, said: “For Hispasat, this new satellite represents an important step forward in its innovation strategy.

“Hispasat 36W-1 is not only the first mission of the new SmallGEO platform, but also incorporates an advanced regenerative payload that will provide the satellite with greater flexibility and signal quality thanks to its reconfigurable antenna and onboard processor, thus improving the telecommunications services it will provide to our clients.

“We are very satisfied with our collaboration with ESA, which has allowed us to participate in a leading technological project to which they have added significant value with their knowledge and experience in the space sector.”

Marco Fuchs, CEO of OHB System AG, commented: “The launch is a major milestone in the history of OHB. Hispasat 36W-1 proves that OHB’s concept of a modular and flexible SmallGEO platform fits into the market.

“SmallGEO is destined to build a cornerstone for Europe’s future activities in the segment of geostationary satellites in the three-tonne class.

“For OHB, Hispasat 36W-1 is the first project of a wide scope of future missions based on the SmallGEO platform, including a revolution in satellite technology: the full electric propulsion mission Electra.”

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides 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 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Slovenia is an Associate Member.

ESA has established formal cooperation with six Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

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. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with EUMETSAT for the development of meteorological missions.

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

Today, it develops and 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. ESA also has a strong applications programme developing services in the Earth observation, navigation and telecommunications domain.

Learn more about ESA at www.esa.int

For further information, please contact:

 

ESA Media Relations Office

Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99

Email: media@esa.int

 

 


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