The purpose of the activity is to identify the nature and the characteristics of missions of telecommunication satellites that could be launched by current and future evolution of Vega launcher offering a commercial competitive advantage.
To afford the problem a team composed of worldwide leaders in the space activities has been settled: ELV (VEGA prime contractor) in charge of analyses and evaluation of Launcher aspects as well as End to End (E2E) mission design in collaboration with TAS-I, European leader in satellite systems, SES, world leading satellite operator, SNECMA European leader on Hall Effect electric thruster and NITEL (National inter-university consortium for transports and logistics) who supported the small spacecraft mission analysis with its 500 affiliate researchers belonging to 19 italian universities.
In order to verify the attractiveness of opportunity provided by VEGA a careful analysis has been conducted on the actual TLC satellites applications which can be categorized in:
- Single satellite in GEO orbit providing continuous coverage of a specific area, or multiple areas.
- Satellite constellations in Lower orbit (from LEO to MEO) providing coverage of a larger area even global.
VEGA launcher like the other small launchers cannot compete with Medium–Heavy launchers for the above mentioned “standard TLC missions” mainly for two reasons:
1) Insufficient performance for direct GTO insertion
2) Single launch of Large Leo constellation satellites not commercially attractive for deployment of constellations.
In order to design commercial attractive mission opportunity on board VEGA modifications to the actual scenario are needed:
1. New missions:
- Constellations of smaller Payload which can be launched in cluster by VEGA for specific applications.
- New orbits alternatives to the geostationary orbit for similar applications.
2. New Spacecraft architecture. Introduction of electric propulsion on spacecraft and/or significant increase of communication performance
3. Enhanced VEGA. Modifications of VEGA to cope with bigger satellites or capacity to reach higher orbits.
These modifications applied also in combination can lead to identification of TLC of commercial interest to be flown on VEGA.