Thales Alenia Space has signed a contract with OHB System AG at the Paris Air Show to provide electronic equipment for the Electra platform. Equipment, built in Belgium, includes:

  • a Power Conditioning Unit
  • A Drive Control Unit (DCU), and
  • The PPU Mk3 Power Processing Unit

The Electra satellite is being developed following an October 2013 public-private partnership (PPP) by the satellite operator SES SA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the German space agency DLR. Electra is based on OHB’s SmallGEO, a generic geostationary platform with all-electric propulsion. It will have a payload capacity of 300 kilograms, with up to 3 kW of power, and offers a design life of up to 15 years.

Most satellites travel through space using chemical propellants, such as liquid oxygen and hydrogen. Electra will use electric propulsion for stationkeeping as well as transferring to geostationary orbit. The disadvantage to this propulsion method is that it could take longer for a satellite to reach its intended orbit after launch. The advantage, however, is that using ion propulsion does not require the large amounts of oxygen and hydrogen used as propellant for chemical thrusters, thereby saving a substantial amount of weight, reducing launch costs, and increasing the amount of transponders that can equip the satellite.

The electronic systems are developed in Belgium by Thales Alenia Space, within the scope of ESA’s ARTES (Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems) project. They meet the requirements of all-electric versions of new-generation European geostationary satellite platforms, designed to address operator expectations for competitiveness, flexibility and multi-launcher compatibility.

Image Source: OHB System AG.