Airbus Space Systems could be proud of. Four months after its launch from Kourou by Ariane 5, on June 1st, the satellite Eutelsat 172B designed by the subsidiary space of the Airbus, for the account of the operator Eutelsat has already reached its geostationary orbit, beating the speed record of the updated position of a satellite with electric propulsion. In general, satellites, all-electric arrive at their final destination after a trip of six to seven months (seven months for the satellites Eutelsat 115 West B and ABS-3A launched in 2015 by SpaceX), compared to a week with chemical propulsion.
Airbus is “the first company to use the propulsion-power for satellites of this size and this capacity, which can reduce their start-up costs, explained the director of Space Systems within Airbus, Nicolas Chamussy. Moreover, the design of the system, the operating strategy and technology plasma Hall-effect used enabled us to carry out the update post electric the fastest ever performed since the transfer orbit to the geostationary orbit. This will allow Eutelsat to put their own satellite electrical service in a record time”.
The entry into service of Eutelsat 172B is planned around the 20th of November once the testing is in the orbit of its payload made and its transfer to the operating orbit carried out by the engineers of Eutelsat. Therefore, the satellite will provide enhanced services to the telecoms, connectivity, in-flight and broadcast television in the Asia-Pacific region. Its lifetime is expected to exceed 15 years through the electric propulsion used for its implementation, and its maintenance position. This satellite has an electrical power of 13 kW for a mass at launch of only 3,55 tonnes, thanks to the Eurostar E3000 platform of Airbus.
A fuel consumption six times lower
The control centre of Airbus in Toulouse has already supported the first operations, initialization, deployment of solar panel and arm of electric propulsion, as well as the initial testing carried out before the beginning of the updated post-electric 8 June. “In the course of the four months that followed, the trolling motors have pushed the satellite smoothly and effectively towards its orbit target, consuming nearly six times less mass of fuel that a satellite with chemical propulsion,” said Eutelsat in a statement published on Wednesday.
“Eutelsat 172B confirms the relevance of our strategy, vis-à-vis of the electric drive train (…) allow us to optimize our investments. By combining electric propulsion, high-capacity, robotic arms and the use of techniques of 3D printing, this new satellite, reflects the ability of Europe to push the innovation to increase the competitiveness of our business,” explained the technical director of Eutelsat, Yohann Leroy.
Thanks to the technology of Airbus, Eutelsat has been able to launch a satellite that is twice as heavy as the Eutelsat 115 West B and Eutelsat 172B has put almost twice less time than him to make it up to substation.
Why is this record
The success and the record of the orbiting electrical are due to two innovations of Airbus :
two robotic arms that are deployable that guide micropropulseurs power and control the direction of the thrust and attitude during the different phases of the mission as well as the vast global network of ground stations WALIS (Wide-Angle Localization Integrated System) developed by Airbus. This network has enabled the engineers to control the operations of placing in orbit until the satellite reaches its position on the geostationary orbit.
The development of satellites, all-electric Eurostar Airbus and Thales Alenia Space, is supported by the european space Agency (ESA) and the space agencies of the european States, in particular the CNES in France, in the framework of the Investment Plan for the Future, and the space agency of the uk.