Module mating: When a bus becomes a satellite

The Alphabus Service Module has been successfully mated with the Alphasat Communications Module, enabling the largest European built satellite to enter its final assembly and test phase at the Astrium facilities in Toulouse, France.

Alphabus, the new European high-power telecommunications platform, jointly developed by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space under a joint ESA and Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) contract, is a coordinated European response to the increased market demand for larger telecommunication payloads. A wide range of commercial payloads to provide TV broadcast, internet access and mobile or fixed telecommunication services can be accommodated on Alphabus.

Alphabus completed qualification at the end of 2010 and is now available on the commercial market to accommodate missions up to 18 kW of payload power, with ongoing developments to extend the range up to 22 kW.

“The mating successfully took place as planned on 15 March, preparing the way for the upcoming satellite test campaign,” said Mr. Stéphane Lascar, Alphabus / Alphasat Programme Manager at ESA.

Alphasat, developed in partnership with European operator Inmarsat, is the first satellite to be launched using the new European high-power Alphabus telecommunications platform. Built by Astrium, Alphasat carries a new generation of advanced geomobile communications payload in L-band that will augment Inmarsat’s Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service, enabling communications across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East with increased capacity. Alphasat also carries four technology demonstration payloads developed through ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme.

Weighing more than 6,000kg, Alphasat is planned for launch at the end of 2012 on Ariane 5.

 “The Alphabus/Alphasat Programme is a prime example of a public–private partnership, our new way of working that ESA is pursuing in telecoms,” said Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications. “Such initiatives in partnership with satellite operators will foster the development of state-of-the-art technologies to serve the new needs of the worldwide market and Europe’s citizens.”

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Event Date

16 March 2011
Published 12 July 2011
Last updated at 12 July 2011 - 15:39