SES invites bids for “open” satellite design
October 9, 2018
By Chris Forrester
SES is looking to order a series of satellites with a revolutionary design. The new concept sees a ‘one size fits all’ concept, and where its next-generation of satellites could be placed into a Mid-Earth (MEO) orbit as well as into a geostationary orbit.
According to reports, SES is inviting Airbus, Boeing and Thales Alenia to bid for the design and build contracts for the new craft.
The flexibility comes about because satellites are these days fully digitised and able to be configured for almost any position around the globe, and can equally be set-up for either MEO or GEO roles almost at the last minute prior to launch.
At a briefing at the recent Euroconsult organised Paris World Satellite Business Week, and reported by specialist publication Space Intel Report, journalists were also told by SES CEO Steve Collar and CTO Martin Halliwell that SES was not backing the concept of ‘in-orbit’ refueling of satellites.
Instead, SES was backing this new design model where the satellites would be all-electric craft with lifetimes of 13-16 years and a launch mass of 2500-2900 kgs, and thus smaller than would usually be the case.
SES is also backing a new, lower-cost manufacturing pattern, where satellites would roll down the production line just as aircraft are today. In seeking to have an ‘open’ standard the end result could be bought from the manufacturers by the likes of Eutelsat, Intelsat or any of SES’ normal rivals.
The clear advantage to all the satellite operators is a lower manufacturing cost, and speedier production.