Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Astrium ships world’s most sophisticated communications satellite

Photo of Alphasat. Credit: Astrium

Alphasat, the most sophisticated commercial communications satellite ever built, has left Astrium’s facilities in Toulouse Monday 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-bandthat 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.

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