SES S.A. today announced its participation in the upcoming Artes-33 programme "ELECTRA" of the European Space Agency (ESA). Under the ELECTRA programme, SES and ESA will establish a public-private partnership aimed at developing a full-electric propulsion small/medium sized satellite platform manufactured in Europe.
Specifically, the project aims to develop, implement, launch and commercially operate an innovative geostationary satellite platform that utilises electric propulsion (instead of conventional chemical propulsion) for transfer into geostationary orbit as well as on orbit station keeping. Thus, the satellite platform can take advantage of smaller launch vehicles or dual launch capabilities, while carrying payload capabilities equivalent to current mid-sized satellites in terms of power consumption and number of active transponders.
ELECTRA is one of the main ESA programmes to which the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has significantly subscribed at the recent ESA Ministerial Conference in Naples.
SES will lead the ELECTRA project and in particular the satellite design definition 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.
"ELECTRA perfectly fits into the innovation priorities of SES. Decreasing the total cost of putting a payload into orbit 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.