New generation satellites in development

The annual Satellite Show in Washington is underway and news has emerged of some dramatic channels under development. The event’s opening panel saw Intelsat’s EVP/CTO Thierry Guillemin and SES’s CTO Martin Halliwell explain their approach to the new thinking.

Guillemin told delegates that its 6 EPIC satellites now on order would expand the Intelsat fleet massively. “Each EPIC carries ten-times the bandwidth of our existing largest satellites, meaning that we will have 60 times the capacity of a single craft, and in the process we are doubling the size of the fleet.”

He explained that there were other changes afoot because the new thinking at Intelsat meant that once the first craft was launched they would be using the most advanced digital software-defined payload in the world (developed by Boeing), and potentially adding that “it was an entirely new paradigm” for the industry.

Guillemin said the future was extremely promising for satellite. He asked that the new thinking included building most of the satellite in advance, and which would allow Intelsat to have the craft delivered in 2-3 months in place of the more typical 3-4 years today.

Martin Halliwell from SES added his thoughts on the fresh thinking. SES is already working on advanced software-defined satellites, but said one of the problems faced by the industry was that satellites had in-orbit lives of 15-20 years. “That era is coming to an end.  What if I could swap out the payload after 7 years?  It would give us a huge advantage in terms of flexibility, allowing us to embrace new applications, new network services and demands. This is what we are thinking about.”

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