As part of its ARTES 14 programme to build a next generation platform for communications spacecraft, the European Space Agency has awarded the phase B contract totalling €18.2 million to Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space for the design of its new Neosat bus/platform design. The Neosat design is designed to keep European manufacturers ahead in the 3,000 to 6,000kg class of commercially offered communications spacecraft. Airbus Defence and Space is responsible for the overall spacecraft design as well as the telecommunication payload design carried. Thales Alenia Space has been put in charge of the main spacecraft propulsion system.
It is envisaged that the new bus design will succeed the Eurostar and Spacebus families of spacecraft designs currently offered by Airbus DS and Thales Alenia Space respectively. The first satellite using the new Neosat design will be launched in 2019. The Neosat spacecraft family will feature an all-electric thruster version but will also be available with a chemical propulsion system.
Comment by David Todd: It is interesting that Airbus is probably going to take the lion’s share of the work. This is in response to the increased funding by the United Kingdom into ESA and especially into its ARTES programme. Airbus has extensive spacecraft engineering facilities in the United Kingdom.