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Spain’s Hisdesat Taps Airbus And Thales Alenia Space For Two SpainSAT NG Satellites

An artist’s rendering of a SpainSAT NG satellite. Image courtesy of Airbus Defence and Space.

A four co-primes consortium formed by Airbus and Thales Alenia Space (both in Spain and France) has been selected by Hisdesat Servicios Estratégicos S.A. (Spanish Governmental Satellite Operator) to build two SpainSAT NG satellites. Used for governmental communications, these new generation satellites will replace the existing SpainSAT and Xtar-EUR satellites. Airbus will act as lead partner of the consortium.

The SpainSAT NG programme includes two satellites, SpainSAT NG-I and -II which will be situated in different geostationary orbital slots to operate in X-, military Ka- and Ultra-High Frequency (UHF)-bands.

The first of these New Generation Spainsat satellites will be launched in 2023 guaranteeing the continuity of the secure communications services to the Spanish Ministry of Defence and Governmental Agencies using the current fleet .

SpainSAT NG will provide coverage on a wide area of the world ranging from the United States and South America to the Middle East, including Africa and Europe and through to Singapore in Asia. Both satellites will:

•  Ensure effective command and control for beyond line-of-sight operations in 2/3 of the Earth.

• Guarantee communication capability in theatres of operation lacking communications infrastructure.

• Develop more satcom on the move, higher capacity, better secured and assured communications.

• Unlock the potential of the network centric battlespace-netcentric warfare and operations.

The communication payloads of both satellites will be provided by the Spanish industry, including the integration of the communications module in Spain, a major step forward for the Spanish industry. Airbus in Spain will be responsible for the X-band payload, while Thales Alenia Space in Spain will be responsible for the Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) and mil-Ka band payloads. Other companies from the Spanish space industry will also be involved.

UHF is a new capability that was not available on the previous SpainSAT fleet. Both satellites will offer redundancy in the zones of interest for the Spanish Armed Forces and will also incorporate advanced protection technologies for anti-jamming and anti-spoofing, plus hardened protection against nuclear phenomena at high altitude.

The satellites will be based on the Eurostar Neo platform, Airbus’ new geostationary telecommunications satellite product, a significant evolution of the highly reliable and successful Eurostar series with an entire range of major innovations. These include an X-band fully flexible payload, employing active antennas with in orbit reconfiguration capability, an onboard digital processor that will interconnect the X- and mil-Ka band payloads for cross-banding, and a dedicated high speed service link enabling fast re-configuration. This will result in a greater capacity, and increased flexibility allowing for electronic reorientation of the beams depending on the coverage needs.

Hisdesat is the owner and operator of the new generation of communication satellites, SpainSAT NG. The main customer is the Spanish Ministry of Defence having a Public Private Partnership with Hisdesat and, among others, the new satellites will also contribute to other Spanish governmental bodies, allies and friendly countries with bilateral agreements, the EU governmental Communications programme, “Govsatcom” and hopefully to the future NATO CP130 capabilities package for satellite communications. In addition, SpainSAT NG will continue providing services to the existing and future customer base of XTAR LLc.

The development of SpainSAT NG is supported by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, as well as the Spanish Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) in the framework of a public-private partnership between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the satellite operator Hisdesat.

The SpainSAT NG satellites will have an operational lifetime of 15 years being in service up to 2037.

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