First SmallGEO handed over to customer HISPASAT

Launched at the beginning of the year, the H36W-1 telecommunications satellite supplied by OHB System AG has been handed over to Spanish satellite operator HispaSat following the completion of an In Orbit Test period of more than 80 days. This trial confirms the design and configuration of the new European SmallGEO satellite platform, simultaneously testifying to the fact that the German space industry has regained system capabilities for telecommunications satellites.

“With the successful hand-over of the SmallGEO satellite H36W-1, OHB has achieved an important strategic goal which is of crucial importance for our company’s future development. At the same time, part of the national space strategy is being implemented with the return to system capability,” explained Marco Fuchs, the Chief Executive Officer of OHB System AG, at the hand-over of the satellite to HISPASAT. H36W-1 is the first satellite based on the SmallGEO platform developed by OHB. It was completed in the form of a private-public partnership comprising the European Space Agency (ESA), OHB and the HISPASAT. “I would like to thank the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) and the European Space Agency (ESA) as well as our customer HISPASAT for the good and collaborative joint activities. Whenever such a new product is developed, a high degree of reciprocal trust is required and this also applies to the teams. It is only with great personal dedication that we were jointly able to turn this vision into reality.”

Commencing service in space

“Our first SmallGEO satellite has impressively demonstrated its full functional capabilities in orbit. This means that the technical design underlying the new satellite platform has been confirmed,” said Dr. Dieter Birreck, the project manager at OHB System AG responsible for H36W-1. OHB’s first geostationary satellite completed the extensive in-orbit testing and maneuvers with flying colors. “It was extraordinary and intensive team work between the space industry, ESA and our customer. We are placing our satellite in the very experienced hands of HISPASAT and wish them every success!”

H36W-1 has already been integrated in the HISPASAT satellite fleet. From its geostationary position, which forms the basis of the satellite’s name, namely above 36 degrees longitude west, it will be providing Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands and South America with flexible broadband services over a period of a good 15 years.

Success for OHB and the OHB Group

OHB System AG acted as the industrial prime contractor for H36W-1, utilizing the expertise of three of its affiliates: OHB Sweden supplied innovative subsystems for the electrical satellite propulsion system as well as the pitch and orbit control system. Luxspace provided the telemetrics and telecommand subsystems and was also involved in validating them at the satellite level. It also contributed to the development of the satellite simulator. OHB Italia supplied the payload control unit and was also involved in the development of the thermal control subsystem.

German manufacturing input for H36W-1 was also high. OHB used the services of Tesat-Spacecom GmbH from Backnang as the principal contractor for the telecommunications payload, while Jena Optronik GmbH supplied the star sensors. Numerous other small and mid-size companies were also involved in the project.

The SmallGEO platform: Flexibility in the 3-ton class

Developed by OHB as part of the ESA ARTES program (Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems), the SmallGEO is a flexible geostationary satellite platform which can be tailored for different missions such as telecommunications, Earth observation and technology testing (in-orbit verification). With its modular structure, it can be configured flexibly to meet customers’ requirements. Customers can select a classic, hybrid or electric propulsion system for the satellite. Depending on the type, SmallGEO satellites have a launch mass of between 2,500 and 3,500 kg, with a permitted payload mass of between 450 and 900 kg. Measuring 3.7 x 1.9 x 2 meters, H36W-1 had a launch mass of 3,200 kg.

The next mission is already on the horizon

“With the hand-over of a fully functional SmallGEO satellite, we have passed a further milestone in our Company’s history by successfully entering the commercial market for telecommunications satellites. Eight SmallGEO satellite projects currently in the pipeline testify to the future viability of the platform,” says Management Board member Andreas Lindenthal, who is in charge of the Company’s operating business. “With the fully electric configuration of the SmallGEO making its debut in the Electra project, we have laid the right foundations for asserting ourselves on the commercial market in the long term.”

Thanks to the lower weight of the electrical propulsion system, this configuration can carry a substantially heavier payload. Electra is being developed and realized by OHB in a PPP project with ESA and Luxembourg satellite operator SES S.A. OHB Sweden is responsible for developing and testing the electric propulsion system and for supplying the position control software.

Further projects in the conventional telecommunications segment include EDRS-C (laser relay) and Heinrich Hertz (in-orbit verification of numerous national scientific and technical innovations as well as satellite communications for the German federal armed forces). Europe’s future fleet of weather satellites, the “Meteosat Third Generation” EUMETSAT satellites, is also based on the SmallGEO satellite platform.