Airbus Defence and Space

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Airbus Defence and Space will deliver six MTG propulsion systems to OHB

• Airbus Defence and Space to develop and build chemical bi-propellant systems for third generation weather satellites
• The complete pre-integrated propulsion systems will be equipped with 16 chemical thrusters for orbit and attitude control, and one main satellite propulsion unit
• Delivery of the first of six propulsion systems is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015

9 July 2013 – Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space technology company, and OHB System AG, a subsidiary company of the European space and technology group OHB AG, today signed a contract for the delivery of propulsion systems for six Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) weather satellites. At its Lampoldshausen (Germany) site, Airbus Defence and Space develops and builds chemical bi-propellant systems, and will be responsible for the delivery of the complete subsystems: from initial design, to construction and diagnostics, through to supply, integration, and testing. A team of 40 at Airbus Defence and Space’s site will work on the propulsion systems with the first complete unit delivered in the first quarter of 2015.

The MTG series will include four satellites (MTG-I) equipped with imaging instrumentation and two satellites (MTG-S) with sounding instruments. ESA is developing two prototype MTG satellites (MTG-I1 and MTG-S1) based on EUMETSAT’s user and system specifications, and is coordinating the delivery of the subsequent satellites based on EUMETSAT’s requirements. 

The prime contractor for the MTG programme is Thales Alenia in France. OHB System AG has been selected as a partner in the programme for six satellite platforms as well as taking a lead role on both of the sounder satellites.

Airbus Defence and Space has developed a Unified Propulsion System (UPS), which is adapted for the third generation Meteosat satellites and offers a complete pre-integrated drive system with 16 10-Newton thrusters for orbit and attitude control, and one 400-Newton apogee engine, all fuelled from two propellant tanks (925l) with hydrazine (MMH) and nitrogen tetroxide (NTO). After its release from the launch rocket, the 400-Newton apogee engine will propel the satellite to its 36,000 km geostationary orbit. At this stage, the majority of the fuel, around 80 percent of the total, will have been expended. The remaining 20 percent of the fuel will serve the satellite’s 16 thrusters to maintain its exact orbit path for the 13-year mission, and for any adjustments required.

Airbus Defence and Space, as a leading supplier of space transportation systems, has delivered complete UPS drive and propulsion systems for many other large European communication satellites; this UPS is designed for a lifespan of up to 15 years and with the highest weight efficiency. The new contract is proof of Airbus Defence and Space’s competitiveness, directly resulting from significant company  investments and from its sustainable process improvement programme.

One aspect of note on the MTG project is the provision of the satellite structure for the integration of the UPS by Airbus Defence and Space. Airbus Defence and Space will be responsible for fitting the propellant and helium tanks, as well as the 400-Newton apogee engine and satellite structure – a central cylinder approximately three metres in height – and the 10-Newton thrusters. Airbus Defence and Space will then weld all the conduits, modules and tanks to the system, and carry out all the wiring and final system testing.

About Airbus Defence and Space

Together, pioneering excellence

Airbus Defence and Space is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third 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 contacts
Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK) Tel.: +44 (0)1438 773872
Gregory Gavroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR) Tel.: +33 (0)1 77 75 80 32
Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER) Tel.: +49 (0)89 607 33971
Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP) Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41

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