Alphasat is a large telecommunications satellite primarily designed to expand Inmarsat’s existing global mobile network. It was engineered and built by Astrium through a public–private partnership between ESA and Inmarsat.
All the partners were present at Europe’s Spaceport to watch the 6.6‑tonne satellite take off.
ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications Magali Vaissiere said: “Alphasat will foster the competitiveness of a European telecommunications operator, Inmarsat, associated with European industry, in a domain where the economic prospects are high.
“We are proud at ESA to have been able to bring together the energies, capabilities and resources in this enterprise.”
Alphasat will extend Inmarsat’s global broadband network, covering Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It has a lifetime of 15 years and its solar wings span 40 m.
Its advanced Integrated Processor, a core element of the commercial payload, is able to perform trillions of operations per second, providing unprecedented service flexibility.
Along with providing a significant increase in service for Inmarsat’s fleet, it also serves as a first flight for Alphabus, the new European telecom platform developed by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space under a joint contract with ESA and France’s CNES space agency.
The high-power multipurpose Alphabus platform serves the large-payload market and meets demand for increased broadcasting services. It can accommodate commercial missions with up to 22 kW of payload power and mass of up to two tonnes, and gives European industry a competitive position in the global telecom market.
Alphasat is also carrying four ESA technology demonstration payloads: an environmental and radiation testing sensor from Efacec (Portugal), the Aldo Paraboni Q/V-band experiment from Thales Alenia Space (Italy) and Space Engineering (Italy), a startracker from Jena-Optronik (Germany) and a laser communication terminal from TESAT (Germany), provided by the DLR German Aerospace Center.