Airbus Defence and Space

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Airbus Defence and Space-built Alphasat satellite ready for service at its operational orbital position

• Alphasat, the world’s most sophisticated commercial communications satellite, has been successfully tested and moved to its operational orbital position

• Airbus Defence and Space, as prime contractor for Alphasat and responsible for Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) operations, confirms first Alphabus platform is now fully operational

• Alphasat’s ‘most sophisticated digital payload ever’, designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space, successfully passed all in-orbit tests and is ready for service

20 November 2013 – Alphasat, the world’s most sophisticated commercial communications satellite, designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space, Airbus Defence and Space, the world's second largest space company, has now reached its operational in-orbit position and has successfully completed all in-orbit tests.

Built for Inmarsat, the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, Alphasat carries a new generation of advanced geomobile communications payload in L-band, developed by Airbus Defence and Space in the UK with investment support from the Technology Strategy Board and the UK Space Agency. This payload will augment Inmarsat’s existing broadband network service across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, providing new capabilities in terms of performance and resource availability. It also delivers additional L-band space segment redundancy and consolidates safety of life services for the aeronautical and maritime sectors.

This advanced payload 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, and an 11-metre antenna reflector.

Alphasat also carries four technology demonstration payloads for ESA, including a laser communications terminal developed under a German space agency DLR contract.

Alphasat, designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space, is also the first flight model of the new high capacity European satellite platform Alphabus which has been jointly developed by Airbus Defence and Space 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.

After its successful launch by Ariane 5 on 25 July 2013, Alphasat’s Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) operations were conducted from the Airbus Defence and Space spacecraft control centre in Toulouse. The satellite reached its testing position in geostationary orbit on 31 July, where it fully deployed its solar arrays and its deployable reflector. Testing of the satellite platform went smoothly and Airbus Defence and Space handed over control of the satellite to Inmarsat on 12 August.

Since then, Inmarsat has conducted intensive payload testing in orbit, supported by Airbus Defence and Space engineers. Alphasat reached its operational position in October, where ESA’s technology demonstrator payloads have also been tested. Inmarsat has begun the migration of Global Satellite Phone Service (GSPS) to Alphasat. Migration of other services is scheduled to be completed by the middle of 2014.

Alphasat, designed for a 15-year in-orbit lifetime, had a launch mass of 6,650 kg, with a deployed solar array wingspan of 40 metres.


About Airbus Defence and Space

Together, pioneering excellence

Airbus Defence and Space is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the second 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, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover over €5.8 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide.

Its three business units are: Airbus Defence and Space, the European prime contractor for launchers, orbital systems and space exploration; Airbus Defence and Space, a leading provider of satellite system solutions, including spacecraft, ground segments, payloads and equipments; Airbus Defence and Space, 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.

Airbus Defence and Space is a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2012, the Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of €56.5 billion and employed a workforce of over 140,000.


Press contact

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space)                                                Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872

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