The small telecommunications satellite developed by SWISSto12, intended for launch into geostationary orbit some 36,000 km above the earth—which can be used as a basis for future satellites—has won support from the European Space Agency (ESA).
This new satellite product line and its first protoflight model will be developed and built under a Partnership Project between ESA and SWISSto12, a small to medium-sized enterprise based in Renens, Switzerland. SWISSto12—which will lead an international consortium—is already marketing this new satellite to commercial operators, which will be able to use it to stream data or broadcast television. The first satellite is due for launch in 2025.
Micro-geostationary (MicroGEO) satellites are a tenth the size of traditional geostationary satellites—typically one cubic metre. This makes them much more affordable to build and launch, enabling satellite operators to provide bespoke regional or gap-filling services that would not be financially viable using large satellites. MicroGEO satellites can also offer a competitive replacement option for certain legacy geostationary satellites that have reached the end of their lifetime.
“MicroGEO satellites open up exciting new market opportunities that can suddenly be serviced from geostationary orbit, thereby offering a complementary solution to larger spacecraft currently on the market. We are thrilled to have partnered with ESA on our first mission. SWISSto12 will benefit from ESA’s experience and technical support to bring this new product to the commercial market,” said Emile de Rijk, chief executive of SWISSto12.
Elodie Viau, director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said, “I very much welcome this initiative of developing a MicroGEO satellite product line in Europe, led by SWISSto12. ESA works with small and medium-sized enterprises such as SWISSto12 to boost innovation and the competitiveness of the European and Canadian space industry in the global market for telecommunications satellites. We are looking forward to working on this new ESA Partnership Project to support our fast, dynamic and agile private space firms to de-risk their investments to meet the needs of the market.”