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Development of all electric propulsion satellite Electra kick offs
by Staff Writers
Luxembourg (SPX) Mar 14, 2016

File image.

SES S.A. announced Friday the signature of contracts, in the presence of Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Etienne Schneider, for the next phase of the development of a new-generation satellite programme which was launched in 2013. Under the Electra programme name, OHB will be developing a fully electric satellite platform to reduce mass and launch costs.

The Electra programme is based on the SmallGEO range, a European Space Agency (ESA) and German Aerospace Center (DLR) funded project with the objective to develop a general-purpose small geostationary satellite platform. The latest contract signed is an element of ESA's ARTES (Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems) programme. It calls for the development of a highly competitive generic small geostationary platform for satellite launch mass below 3 tonnes.

This contract foresees the launch of an Electra satellite and its in-orbit qualification. In 2013, SES signed a first private public partnership with the ESA and OHB System AG of Bremen to support these goals.

Under ESA contract, SES will define the satellite mission and lead the procurement phase. To this end, SES will work in close cooperation with OHB System AG of Bremen, who will act as the prime contractor to SES.

"The partnership with the world's largest satellite operator, SES, on the one hand and the support of ESA and its Member States, particularly Germany, on the other, will open up excellent possibilities for us, allowing us to assert ourselves in this attractive market," said OHB Chief Executive Officer Marco Fuchs.

"The fully electric GEO platform is a strategic product for OHB, whose importance for future contracts goes substantially beyond the telecommunications segment."

"Electra perfectly fits into the innovation priorities of SES. Decreasing the total cost of putting a payload into orbit and increasing the range of possible applications is a key strategic element for the satellite operator community.

"Electric propulsion is poised to inject increased competitiveness into the satellite industry, an essential element for the sustained development of the satellite-based commercial telecommunications market. SES is pleased to trigger this Electra initiative and to establish a strong relationship with ESA," said Martin Halliwell, SES Chief Technology Officer.

"An innovative R and D investment is the key weapon for European industry to stay ahead of the intense global competition. Electra is an example of how we can achieve this," said Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications.

"Our approach combines best practice gained from several years of experience, with careful customisation according to the peculiarities of each case and the needs of each partner. This is a dynamic and sustainable model for stimulating innovation, by leveraging public money to attract private investment".

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