The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a €100 M framework contract with OHB-System AG of Germany to develop a European Small Geostationary Satellite platform for telecommunication missions.

With this initiative, ESA is supporting European industry in broadening the product portfolio range on offer to the commercial telecommunication satellite market, by covering a market segment where no optimised European solutions currently exist.

This contract covers the first part of an initiative aimed at the definition of a general-purpose small geostationary satellite platform, which will enable European players to compete effectively on the commercial telecommunications market for small platforms.

To achieve this, ESA has set up a new programme element under the Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES).

The ‘ARTES 11’ programme, which currently has eight of the Agency’s Member States participating, is divided into two parts. It initially involves the development and manufacture of the first flight model of a generic bus. The platform will accommodate a payload mass of up to 300 kg with power consumption of up to 3 kW over a 15-year mission lifetime.

The programme subsequently involves the development, manufacture and launch of a first satellite mission to provide flight heritage and in-orbit demonstration for the platform. The mission payload is due to be selected around end-2007/early 2008 under an open tender process and the satellite selected is scheduled to be launched by the end of 2010.