Astrium a prime contractor twice over for Alphasat launch aboard Ariane 5
18 July 2013
- Alphasat, the world’s most sophisticated commercial communications satellite ever built, is ready for its launch aboard an Ariane 5, scheduled on 25 July
- 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
- Since 2003, Astrium is the prime-contractor for Ariane 5, the most reliable commercial launcher on the global market
Astrium, Europe’s leading space technology company, is preparing Alphasat, the most sophisticated commercial communications satellite ever built, for its launch. On 25 July, Alphasat should be launched aboard an Ariane 5 to reach the geo-stationary orbit (36.000 km). Astrium is the industrial prime contractor for both Alphasat and the Ariane 5 European launcher.
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.
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. The satellite’s payload, built by Astrium, 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.
- 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 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.
Astrium is the prime contractor of the Ariane launchers. Astrium has been overseeing the Ariane 5’s industrial network since 2003, comprising more than 550 companies (over 20% of them SMEs) in 12 European countries. Astrium Space Transportation also manages the entire industry supply chain, from the manufacture of equipment and stages to the complete integration of the launcher in French Guiana, in line with the customer’s specifications. Thanks to the expertise the company has acquired and the investments it has made in this near 10-year period, Ariane 5 has become the most reliable commercial launcher on the global market and has increased its geostationary orbit payload capacity by nearly one metric ton. A flagship of European know-how, the Ariane 5 launcher has been specifically designed to carry heavy payloads into space.
Together, pioneering excellence
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.