Today at Le Bourget, the contract was signed for the development of Alphabus, the new European platform for the next generation of telecommunications satellites.
The contract was signed by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), EADS Astrium and Alcatel Space. It marks the start of the Alphabus development programme with a view to production of the first flight model around 2009.
Alphabus, which was given the go-ahead by ESA's Member States at the Edinburgh ministerial conference in November 2001, is the work of an integrated team - ESA/CNES and EADS Astrium/Alcatel Space - which has designed a product targeted at the upper segment of the telecom satellite market.
ESA, CNES, EADS Astrium and Alcatel Space have thus pooled their technical and financial resources for a joint development programme.
Alphabus will offer Europe reliable solutions matching world demand for very high-power satellites and will be commercialised jointly by EADS Astrium and Alcatel Space as from 2007.
The Alphabus platform was designed for telecom satellites delivering payload power of 12 to 18 kW.
Alphabus will contribute to the replacement of the major operators' satellites, by offering a lower cost per transponder and the capability to fly reconfigurable missions. Alphabus will make new applications possible. These include the new generation of mobile and broadband services, digital radio broadcasting and high-definition TV.
Satellites based on Alphabus will have a lift-off mass of 6 to 8 tonnes and be optimised for the new generation of launchers with a fairing diameter of 5 m. The platform will accommodate near 200 high-power transponders and numerous antennas and have a high growth potential.
The joint prime contractor for the Alphabus platform is EADS Astrium and Alcatel Space. The industrial structure includes other European firms, providing all the equipment making up this innovative product, which should enable Europe to retain its competitive edge on the world satellite market.
The Alphabus programme is supported jointly by ESA and CNES which have, on this occasion, introduced new cooperation rules in order to respond to market needs as closely as possible and help in setting up a genuine industrial team benefiting from the best of the resources that the European space industry can offer.
To read more about Alphabus, also known as the 'Large Platform Mission' just click under related links at the right of this page.