European Space Agency

Beacons and converters secure flight orders


A range of products, building on technology developed by Astrium in the Generic Flexible Payload programme (GFP), is proving to be commercially successful. A down-converter product line and a beacon product line, aimed at the mainstream market, have already resulted in sales of more than forty beacon transmitters spread across seven flight orders, thanks to their competitive performance and price.

The ARTES 3-4 GFP programme of work has already successfully delivered a range of equipment, payload products and novel payload architectures. Some of these are already in use on orbiting satellites such as Hylas-1. The latest commercial exploitation of technology developed through this programme has resulted in further flight contracts for beacons, down-converters and cross-converters. The beacons, developed in a separate ARTES 3-4 project, operate at C or Ku Band downlink frequencies. Due to their modular design they can also be adapted to serve all standard downlink frequency bands, including S, X and Ka band downlink frequencies, with minor modifications. The modular design also affords compatibility with payload receivers and down-converters.

The beacon development project has placed Astrium in a good position to capture a large percentage of the global market for pointing beacons. Furthermore the wider GFP programme is proving commercially successful for Astrium with flight orders for more than 100 units of equipment and frame contracts for the supply of future units.

The success of products based on GFP technology demonstrates the importance of ESA’s ARTES programmes in boosting competitiveness in the European satcom sector. “We are pleased to see continuing commercial success resulting from the Generic Flexible Payload project," said ï»¿Michael Harverson, Head of Payload Technologies and Products Section at ESA. "This confirms that there is a demand for a range of telecommunications payload products with generic designs and which provide the flexibility required to meet the needs of satellite service operators in an ever changing market.”



A typical receiver unit (LNA plus downconverter)



A typical beacon

Event Date

19 November 2013
Published 19 November 2013
Last updated at 19 November 2013 - 10:30