As part of NEOSAT, one of ESA’s Artes Partnership Projects, the Airbus Eurostar Neo platform began its mechanical qualification test campaign at the end of 2019.
The Structure Test Model, STM, is configured with two modules each representing the generic platform Service Module (SM) and a typical Communications Module (CM). These were manufactured and assembled independently, at Airbus in Stevenage UK facility, validating flight tooling and processes.
The two modules were then mated with sub millimeter accuracy, with the CM on top of the SM.
This STM SM/CM mate not only constitutes a significant milestone for the preparation of the structure qualification test campaign, but also serves as a de-risk and dry run for the forthcoming mechanical mating of the two halves of the first flight Eurostar Neo satellite currently under construction at Airbus in Stevenage.
As of mid February 2020, Airbus has successfully completed the static test campaign and is now preparing the hardware for a series of dynamic tests.
The new Eurostar Neo product line is developed in the frame of ESA’s Partnership Projects of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES), in cooperation with agencies from ESA Member States, including the UK Space Agency (UKSA).
The Neosat programme comprises both Spacebus Neo by Thales Alenia Space and Eurostar Neo by Airbus. It includes development up to in-orbit validation of the new satellite product lines for both companies, allowing European industry to deliver competitive satellites for the global commercial market. As of end 2019, 11 Neosat satellites have been sold on the world market, demonstrating ESA’s Partnership Projects ability to achieve competitive leaps forward and high economic benefits.