The ARTES Next Generation Platform element, or NEOSAT, is the ESA programme to develop and qualify two new satellite product lines, Eurostar Neo and Spacebus Neo, that will enable the European space industry to deliver commercially competitive satellites in the 3 to 6 tons launch mass range. The programme includes the in-orbit validation of the new platforms. Neosat is a joint ESA/CNES undertaking with shared programme management.
The new product lines are aiming at significant cost reduction for in-orbit data capacity achieved through:
- Full electric propulsion for both orbit raising and station keeping
- Reduced time for assembly, integration and testing thanks to modular design
- Easier payload accommodation for a large range of payloads
- Compatibility with Ariane, Proton and Falcon launcher families
An important goal of the Neosat programme is to build a European supply chain which optimises costs and guarantees on-time delivery of satellites. It will be necessary to achieve high industrial and technical performance from suppliers in order for this to succeed. Some items, such as Xenon tanks and Electric Propulsion thrusters, are being developed in common for both Spacebus Neo and Eurostar Neo to benefit from economies of scales.
In addition to optimising the supply chain, another challenge is for each prime to design a modular product line, incorporating the right mix of new and proven technologies, capable of embarking a wide range of payloads, including the latest technologies in that field, and compatible with the changing launcher landscape.
Both Eurostar Neo and Spacebus Neo passed the Preliminary Design Review in early 2015. Phase B was completed in 2015. Separate Phase C/D contracts were signed with both primes at the end of 2015, each of which leads its own European consortium.
Thales Alenia Space (TAS) (France) is the prime contractor for Spacebus Neo.
In October 2015, TAS has won the first Spacebus Neo commercial satellite contract for a Broadband for Africa mission with Eutelsat (BB4A) to be launched in 2019.
Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus DS) (France) is the prime contractor for Eurostar Neo.
Airbus plans to sell the first Eurostar Neo satellite this year, and is actively marketing the new platform on the world market.
The current development contracts cover the basic features of the new platform product lines; however there are still additional options to be developed within the current technical baseline.
These options include:
- A number of basic components, so-called Building Blocks
- Procurement of the first proto-flight models of key units, critical for market introduction
- Ground support equipment (mechanical and electrical), including full implementation of European Ground Systems – Common Core (EGS-CC)
The latest market trends show that satellites with payload power in the range of 25 KW is becoming a requirement. The development of the two Neosat platforms to meet this performance will be achieved with the current platform designs by enhancing payload accommodation, more efficient power generation, and improved thermal dissipation.
These options and the growth potential of the product line will be implemented based upon availability of additional funding. Iterations with industry and the seventeen Neosat Participating States are on-going in order to:
- confirm adequacy of the activities with national priorities
- ensure that amounts foreseen for the activities are in line with Participating States’ expectations
These activities are being put forward as part of the complementary Neosat funding request at the ESA Ministerial Council in December 2016.