Wednesday, June 15, 2005

EADS Astrium and Alcatel Selected for Europe's Next Gen Satellites

EADS Astrium and Alcatel Space have been selected for the full development of Alphabus, the new European platform for next generation communications satellites. The contract was awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the French space agency CNES.

EADS Astrium and Alcatel Space have decided to federate their technical and financial resources on a common development programme, taking into account the amount of new technologies and facilities. Responsibilities of EADS include: Electrical power, Solar array, Chemical propulsion, as well as the Assembly, Integration and Test of the spacecraft. Alcatel Space is in charge of the Mechanical and Thermal subsystems, Avionics, as well as Electrical propulsion.

EADS Astrium and Alcatel Space will market the Alphabus for commercial communications satellites beginning in 2007.

The Alphabus platform is designed for communications satellites with payload power in the range 12-18 kW of power. This will support the renewal of the fleet for large operators, offering a lower cost per transponder and the ability to accommodate reconfigurable missions, as well as the development of applications such new generation mobile and broadband services, digital audio broadcast and HDTV. Satellites based on Alphabus will have a launch mass in the range 6 to 8 tonnes, and take full benefit of the capabilities of the new generation of 5 meter fairing commercial launchers. In order to cover the mission range in an optimized way, the platform product line includes several options such as electric propulsion, and features scalable resources (solar array, radiators for thermal dissipation, etc.). The platform will be able to accommodate up to 190 high power transponders and large antenna farms, and will have a significant growth potential.

  • In January 2005, Alcatel and Finmeccanica reached a final agreement to merge their space activities through the creation of two joint ventures companies, to which both partners will contribute their respective satellite industrial and service activities. The first company, Alcatel Alenia Space, of which Alcatel will hold 67% and Finmeccanica 33%, will combine Alcatel Space and Alenia Spazio's activities. It will concentrate on the design, development, and manufacturing of space systems, satellites, payloads, instruments and associated ground systems for civilian and military applications. The headquarters of Alcatel Alenia Space will be located in France, with plants in France, Italy, Belgium and Spain. With estimated 2004 sales of EUR 1.8 billion and around 7,200 people, it will create the European leader in satellite systems and services. The second company, Telespazio, of which Finmeccanica will hold 67% and Alcatel 33%, will combine Telespazio with Alcatel Space Services and Operations activities. It will concentrate on operations and services for satellite solutions, which includes control and exploitation of space systems as well as value-added services for networking, multimedia and earth observation.

See also