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Alphabus development well under way


* First flight model to be used for ESA/Inmarsat Alphasat mission

Toulouse.- Astrium and Thales Alenia Space are jointly developing Alphabus, the new European platform for next generation high power communications satellites. The Alphabus programme development is supported jointly by ESA (European Space Agency) through the ARTES-8 technology programme and CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales of France).

Following the recent agreement between Inmarsat and ESA, the first flight model of the Alphabus platform will be used for the Alphasat satellite, which will carry a large commercial communications payload for Inmarsat, as well as three technology demonstration payloads for ESA.

The Alphabus programme is currently in the Critical Design Review phase, an important milestone to be reached in mid-December, and is on track for the delivery of the PFM (Protoflight Model) in the course of 2009 to the Alphasat programme.

The Alphabus platform is designed for communications satellites with payload power in the range 12-18 kW. Satellites based on Alphabus will have a launch mass in the range 6 to 8 tonnes. In order to cover the mission range in an optimised way, the platform product line includes several options such as electric propulsion, and features scalable resources (solar array, radiators for thermal dissipation, etc). The platform will be able to accommodate up to 190 high power transponders and large antenna farms, and will have a significant growth potential (20 kW payload power and 9 tonnes launch mass for the extended range).

Alphabus is being developed to address the top end of the telecom satellite market. A joint project team is in charge of project management and engineering. Specific responsibilities for Astrium include: Electrical Functional chain, Solar arrays, Chemical propulsion, as well as Spacecraft Assembly, Integration and Test. Thales Alenia Space is in charge of the Mechanical and Thermal subsystems, Avionics (Data Handling and attitude and Control) and Electrical propulsion. The platform equipments are procured from selected European suppliers. Astrium and Thales Alenia Space will jointly market Alphabus for commercial communications satellites applications on the world market.


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