The UK-based small satellite manufacturing arm of prime contractor, Airbus Defence and Space, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), has been selected to produce the bus design the first “Eutelsat Quantum” class telecommunications spacecraft, due to launch in 2018. The “Eutelsat Quantum” will be SSTL’s first geostationary satellite platform and the design is based on the SSTL GMP-T satellite product. This bus design is described by SSTL as a “scaleable geostationary craft with a design life of 15 years, payload power of up to 7 KW, and payload mass of up to 450kg.” In this instance, the satellite is expected to weigh about 3,500 kilograms at launch, including a 450-kilogram payload, and to deliver 5 kilowatts of power to its payload. The spacecraft is designed to be accommodated on a range of launch vehicles, including Ariane 5, Falcon 9, and Zenit.
Part funding for the new platform and payload is via the ESA ARTES 33 programme, was approved at the ESA Joint Ministerial meeting in early December. This funding will cover the development of both the platform and the payload. The prime contractor for the new spacecraft will be Airbus Defence and Space in Portsmouth, who will also be responsible for the payload. While announced, the formal contracts are yet to be signed and this is expected to take place early next year.
In a statement, Sir Martin Sweeting, Chairman and CEO of SSTL commented “We are delighted to be teaming with Eutelsat, ESA and Airbus Defence and Space in the development of this highly innovative, flexible satellite solution. Not only is this an exciting mission and application, it is a milestone for SSTL providing an anchor customer for the transfer variant of our Geostationary Minisatellite Platform (GMP-T).”
The new spacecraft design will represent a first in the commercial satellite industry, by enabling the complete electronic synthesis of “receive” and “transmit” coverages in the Ku-band. This, it is hoped, will give Eutelsat’s customers access to premium capacity through footprint shaping and steering, power and frequency band pairing, and the ability to define their own performance and flexibility requirements.