Alphasat, a project of ESA, CNES and Inmarsat, has received up to â‚¬225 million in funding from the EU´s Risk-sharing Finance Facility (RSFF). The agreement was signed in Brussels by European Investment Bank (EIB) President Philippe Maystadt and Inmarsat Chief Operating Officer Perry Melton in the presence of European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan Quinn and ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications Magali Vaissiere.
Jointly created by the European Commission and EIB, the RSFF improves access to research, development and innovation financing for private companies or public institutions.
Alphasat, named Inmarsat-XL by Inmarsat, is the first satellite to be launched using the new European high-power telecommunications platform known as Alphabus, jointly developed by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space and initiated by a partnership between ESA and CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales). ESA is contributing around €230 million through the provision of the Alphabus platform, as well as innovative developments on the mobile payload and the TDPs.
Alphasat will extend the performance and the capacity of Inmarsat’s high-speed mobile data and voice communications services. Alphasat will be used by maritime, aeronautical and land mobile users in all kind of situations and will, among other applications, facilitate the work of medical and emergency services.
The Alphasat satellite will be “open access” for research organisations. It will initially house four Technological Demonstration Payloads (TDPs) developed by several European universities, industry and space organisations involved in various aspects of satellite communication systems. Launch of Alphasat on Ariane 5 is scheduled for 2012.
The EIB is providing Inmarsat a loan of up to €225 million towards the construction and launch of Alphasat XL expected to cost around €598 million. The loan is being provided from the joint EC-EIB Risk Sharing Finance Facility, backed by funds from the European Union’s 7th research framework programme (€1 billion) and EIB’s own resources (€1 billion).
EIB President Philippe Maystadt said: “This confirms the EIB’s long-standing support to Europe’s space industry. This satellite will put European industry in a leading position in this segment and could bring significant spill-over effects for research and innovation in Europe. This is the type of investment the EIB intends to finance further under the EU-2020 initiative.”
Telecommunications and Integrated Applications Directorate Magali Vaissiere said: “Alphasat is the first large Public Private Partnership (PPP) that ESA has undertaken in the Telecom area and we hope it will pave the way for future relationships with other operators. We expect this will also open the door for future relations with the European Investment Bank."
The Alphabus/Alphasat activities of ESA are implemented within the framework of element 8 of the Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme. The primary objective of ESA under the Alphasat Programme is to facilitate an early first flight, and in-orbit validation of the Alphabus platform.
Alphabus is a coordinated European response to the increased market demand for larger telecommunication payloads. A wide range of commercial payloads to provide TV broadcast, broadband multimedia, internet access mobile or fixed telecommunication services can be accommodated on Alphabus.
For more information, see the related and contact links located in the column to the right. For more information on ARTES 8 Alphabus/Alphasat, follow the link located in the column to the left.