The European Space Agency (ESA) announced earlier this week that one of the largest telecommunications satellites ever built in Europe has been launched and is on its way to geostationary orbit.
SES-17, sold to satellite operator SES, launched from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. It will provide broadband connectivity to commercial shipping and aviation in the Americas, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Built by Thales Alenia Space, the satellite includes cutting-edge technology developed under ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems, including an innovative cooling system and a new onboard processor.
ESA launched SES-17 along with Syracuse 4, also built by Thales Alenia Space, as part of the Neosat Program, an initiative to develop, qualify and validate in-orbit next-generation satellite platforms for the core satellite communications market.
“I am proud to witness the successful launch of SES-17 and Syracuse 4, which serves as a showcase for how ESA is pushing the boundaries of technology, supporting the European space industry on the world market, and introducing innovative services for European citizens, said Elodie Viau, ESA’s Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications.
SES-17 seeks to connect underserved areas and accelerate digital inclusion. Its processor belongs to a new generation of data-intensive high-throughput or very-high-throughput satellites and uses a fifth-generation digital transparent processor for more capacity and flexibility.
The cooling system was developed by Thales Alenia Space and the French Space Agency, CNES, under the ESA Spacebus Neo Partnership Project, and it is being used for the first time on a large commercial telecommunications satellite.
The Neosat programme comprises Spacebus Neo and Eurostar Neo, partnered with Thales Alenia Space and Airbus, respectively. By reducing investment risk for the projects’ partners and galvanizing innovation, ESA aims to bolster European competitiveness in the market for high-throughput satellites. To date, 15 Neosat satellites have been sold by European industry to six satellite operators.
“ESA fosters innovation in the European space industry, enabling it to succeed in the highly competitive, fast-evolving global telecommunications markets,” Viau said. “Investing in space creates jobs and prosperity on Earth. I congratulate all the teams from our private partners and from ESA for their collaboration leading to this success.”