Astrium ships world’s most sophisticated communications satellite
17 June 2013
- Alphasat, the world’s most sophisticated communications satellite ever built, has been shipped to its launch site
- Alphasat, designed and built by Astrium as prime contractor, carries a new generation of advanced mobile communications payload in L-band as well as four technological demonstration payloads for ESA
- Alphasat is the first satellite to use the European high capacity Alphabus platform
Alphasat, the most sophisticated commercial communications satellite ever built, has left Astrium’s facilities in Toulouse today after completion of its final integration and test campaign and is now en route to Kourou, French Guyana, to be prepared for its launch aboard an Ariane 5, scheduled for the end of July.
Designed and built by Astrium for Inmarsat, the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services and the European Space Agency (ESA), Alphasat embodies three outstanding achievements in one single programme.
Alphasat carries a new generation of advanced geomobile communications payload in L-band that will augment Inmarsat’s broadband network service across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, providing new capabilities in terms of performance and resource availability. It also delivers additional L-band space segment redundancy and consolidates safety of life services for the aeronautical and maritime sectors.
The payload design and production was led by Astrium in the UK.
This payload features eight new generation digital signal processors, which are able to efficiently manage multiple communications with maximum flexibility in both frequency and beam power allocation, and an 11 meter antenna reflector.
Alphasat also carries four Technology Demonstration Payloads for ESA, including a laser communications terminal, developed under German space agency DLR contract. It is a precursor of the operational system for EDRS (European Data Relay System) enabling very high speed transmission between LEO and GEO which will greatly enhance Earth observation applications and services.
On top of that, Alphasat is the first flight model of the new high capacity European satellite platform Alphabus which has been jointly developed by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space with ESA and CNES (French Space Agency) support, to address the upper range of the communications satellite market. The Alphabus platform is the most powerful platform on the market, capable of conducting missions with a satellite launch mass of up to 8,800kg, a payload power of up to 22kW and a payload mass up to 2,000kg.
Alphasat, designed for 15 years of in-orbit lifetime, will have a launch mass of 6,650 kg and a wingspan of 40 meter once its solar arrays are deployed in orbit. Launch and Early Orbit Phase operations will be conducted from the Astrium spacecraft control centre in Toulouse.
Astrium is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. It is the only global company that covers the full range of civil and defence space systems, equipment and services.
In 2012, Astrium had a turnover over €5.8 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide.
Its three business units are: Astrium Space Transportation, the European prime contractor for launchers, orbital systems and space exploration; Astrium Satellites, a leading provider of satellite system solutions, including spacecraft, ground segments, payloads and equipments; Astrium Services, the Space services partner for critical missions, providing comprehensive fixed and mobile solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.
Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2012, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of €56.5 billion and employed a workforce of over 140,000.