Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL), based in Guildford, UK, unveiled its portion of Eutelsat’s highly versatile ‘Quantum’ satellite on January 9th.
The satellite is being built under a public–private partnership between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the satellite operator Eutelsat with Airbus as the prime contractor. The satellite platform, which has been designed and manufactured by SSTL was on view to invited guests at a special event to mark the handover to Airbus who will complete the satellite assembly and testing in Toulouse.
The craft will now be shipped back to Toulouse for the final stages in its assembly prior to launch later this year. It is expected to be on station – to a yet-unspecified orbital position – in Q1 2020. Quantum uses chemical propulsion and thus ensuring a speedy journey to orbit.
The Quantum platform consists of a precision-engineered composite central thrust tube standing at 2.5 metres tall which houses a bipropellant chemical propulsion system that will enable the satellite to stay on station throughout its 15-year lifetime, and SSTL’s newly developed GEO momentum wheels and gyro which will maintain the satellite in a stable attitude and enable adjustments in the satellite’s orbital position.
The flexibility built into Quantum allows for variable regional coverage, power output, spectrum usage and regional capacity, and each element can be optimised in orbit and subsequently changed to suit market demands.
It is worth stressing that this is the first SSTL commercial geostationary satellite. Sarah Parker, Managing Director of SSTL said: “The completion of our work on the Eutelsat Quantum satellite platform is an important milestone for SSTL as it represents our first venture into the global commercial telecoms satellite market. The design and assembly of this innovative spacecraft has enabled us to advance the knowledge and skills required to develop highly capable satellite products for the evolving telecoms market, where we are actively engaged in seeking new opportunities.”
Yohann Leroy, Deputy CEO and CTO at Eutelsat described the extremely flexible satellite as “transitional” for Eutelsat, and added that it is a world first and the culmination of many years of research by Eutelsat. “Its premium capacity will enable us to offer game-changing optionality and flexibility to our customers in the government, mobility and data markets, who will be able to operate and optimise capacity to adjust coverages in real time, and to do so autonomously. We are delighted to co-operate with our long-standing partners, the ESA, the UK Space Agency and Airbus, and to be able to rely on the world-leading expertise within the UK space industry.”
He declined to reveal the actual cost of the satellite but confirmed that the UK’s investment in the craft (from the UK’s Space Agency) comes in at €72 million, plus another €8 million from the European Space Agency.
Arianespace will launch the craft on an Ariane 5 rocket.