Hisdesat, a government-run satellite operator of Spain, has showed an agreement in buying two satellites from Airbus – SpainSAT NG 1 and SpainSAT NG 2; which will be replacing the 12 years old military communications spacecraft – SpainSAT and Xtar-EUR satellites.
At a Satellite 2019 Conference, Nicolas Chamussy, the outgoing head of Airbus Space Systems told the reporters that the contract was presented to a consortium of Airbus and Thales Alenia Space but the major work will be handled by Airbus.
In order to keep an uninterrupted provision of services to the Spanish Ministry of Defense, it is essential for the new satellites, which have an operational lifetime of 15 years, to be launched not later than 2023, said Chamussy. However, the launch provider is yet to be selected.
The two new satellites will be launched to different geostationary orbital slots to operate in X, military Ka and UHF bands; in order for Hisdesat too be able to provide enhanced satellite-based communications fulfilling the requirements for Spain’s military and NATO. The X band payloads will be handled by Airbus, whereas the band payloads for UHF and military Ka will be handled by Thales Alenia Space. Apart from these two, other companies of the Spanish space industry will also be involved.
The old SpainSAT fleet did not have the UHF capability, which is a new feature of the two new satellites. These have advance protection from anti-jamming, anti-spoofing and nuclear radiation.
The existing as well as future consumer base of XTAR will take privilege of the new SpainSAT fleet; which will be providing coverage from the United States and South America to the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia.
Airbus has a new geostationary telecommunications satellite product known as Eurostar Neo, on which these two satellites will be based. This is significantly important according to Chamussy as the selection of Airbus validates Hisdesat’s aspiration to invest in technologies like electric propulsion, flexible payloads, electronically steered antennas and on-board digital processors for X and military Ka cross banding.
Airbus partnered with European Space Agency to design the Eurostar Neo platform which is comparatively cheaper than the current satellites. Airbus and Thales Alenia Space, both market this platform.
The Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Spanish Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology have partnered with European Space Agency and Hisdesat to support the SpainSAT NG program under a public-private partnership.