Neosat is part of ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems programme (ARTES) and aims at developing, qualifying and validating in orbit next-generation satellite platforms for the core satcom market.
The goal is for European satellite builders to capture at least half of the world’s satcom market in 2018–30, generating €25 billion in sales.
A crucial objective for Neosat is to reduce the cost of a satellite in orbit by 30% compared with today’s designs by the end of the decade. Existing and new technologies will be used in innovative ways with economies of scale achieved through creating a common supply chain for both satellite prime contractors.
Neosat will be optimised for electric propulsion – both for raising the satellite into geostationary orbit after separation from its launcher, and for maintaining its operating position. Electric thrusters use significantly less propellant than traditional thrusters to reach the same destination.
The Neosat product lines will offer the option of all-electric, hybrid electric/chemical and all-chemical propulsion versions.
In the hybrid and all-chemical versions, the telecommunications operator will have the flexibility to speed-up orbit-raising using chemical propellants – a manoeuvre that could take a few months by electric propulsion alone.
Corresponding technologies to be investigated for the future satellite platforms include new thermal control concepts and next-generation battery cells.
Since the award of the ESA contract on 15 September 2015, Thales Alenia Space has begun full development of the Spacebus Neo product line. A contract with Airbus Defence & Space was awarded on 17 November 2015 for the full development of the Eurostar Neo product line.
The first prototype flight platforms of Spacebus Neo and Eurostar Neo are planned for launch in 2019 for in-orbit demonstration under a public–private partnership to be established with satellite operators.
Neosat is based on cooperation between ESA and France’s CNES space agency, and managed jointly by ESA and CNES.