News | 15.09.2015

Telecom market is facing revolution with all-electric satellites and Falcon-9 launchers

ABS-3A Boeing artist's concep

ABS-3A Boeing artist’s concep

ABS-3A (Boeing 702 SP) satellite, the world’s first all-electric commercial telecommunications spacecraft, has reached final geostationary position and begun operations six months after its launch. The satellite’s entry into service occurred about one month ahead of schedule.

The advantage of all-electric satellites is their low launch mass, allowing the purchase of less-expensive launch services or, in the case of ABS, enabling satellite operators to launch two satellites at a time depending on the rocket selected. The disadvantage is that they take months to reach geostationary position, rather than a couple of weeks for satellites with chemical propellant.

ABS-3A was launched in March aboard a Falcon 9 rocket operated by SpaceX of Hawthorne, California. The 1,950-kilogram satellite was paired with the slightly heavier Eutelsat 115 West B, which weighed 2,200 kilograms.

Industry officials at the time said ABS and Satmex paid about $90 million for each satellite, with the two evenly dividing the cost of a $60 million Falcon 9 launch. Building and launching satellites carrying 40-plus transponders for around $120 million apiece was unheard of at the time of the contract signing. Since then, other satellite builders, especially Airbus Defence and Space of Europe, have plowed resources into their own all-electric designs and have won commercial orders.
Full article at SpaceNews