News | 05.04.2016
ELECTRA contract signature took place on 11 March 2016 at SES premises in Luxembourg with the presence of representatives of SES Astra, OHB Systems, ESA and some ESA Member States.
ESA’s partnership with satellite operator SES will bring a new generation of small European telecommunications satellites that are propelled by electric thrusters, with a first launch by the end of 2021.
The ELECTRA project has reached a key milestone in the development of an electric-only propulsion platform for orbit raising and station-keeping, which cuts fuel consumption and thereby reduces launch mass by 40%. This allows payloads to be twice as large, or the use of smaller launchers, both of which are economically attractive.
OHB Systems has worked with SES Astra in the development of ELECTRA to extend their portfolio of telecom satellite platforms, adding a fully electric version to the SmallGEO product line.
The mission to be hosted on board the first ELECTRA flight will be defined at a later stage of the project; and that inflight validation will be the final step to gain the confidence of the market that is necessary to ensure strong sales.
ELECTRA project objective is the development of a full electric small satellite telecommunications platform in the range of 2 – 3 tonne class which could compete with the Boeing 702SP platform using low cost launch options. The baseline Electric Propulsion subsystem design considers a four thruster configuration (2 + 2) with each pair of thrusters mounted on a boom mechanism to allow repositioning between orbit raising and station keeping functions. The requirement for orbit transfer duration to be less than 200 days necessitates the use of 4.5 kW class thrusters for orbit raising.
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