MUMBAI: Satellite operator SES is looking at building a new hybrid communications satellite, SES-12. And for the same, the operator has selected Airbus Defence and Space. The new satellite, which is set for a launch in 2017, aims to serve the fast growing direct to home (DTH), data, mobility and government markets in Asia.
The new satellite will expand SES’s capabilities to provide DTH broadcasting, VSAT, Mobility and High Throughput Satellite (HTS) data connectivity services in the Asia-Pacific region, including rapidly growing markets such as India and Indonesia.
The spacecraft will be positioned at the well-established SES orbital slot of 95 degrees east, providing incremental as well as replacement capacity with excellent view angles across the Asia-Pacific region.
SES-12 will replace SES’s existing NSS-6 satellite and will be co-located with SES-8. The satellite operator currently serves close to 20 million DTH households in India and Indo-china from this orbital slot.
The new satellite will be built by Airbus Defence and Space based on the highly reliable Eurostar E3000 platform. The satellite is designed to operate for 15 years, with a payload consisting of 68 high-power physical Ku-band transponders and eight physical Ka-band transponders. The spacecraft will be equipped with an electric plasma propulsion system for orbit raising and on-orbit maneuvers. The payload of the hybrid SES-12 satellite consists of two distinct but complementary missions: first, traditional wide beam coverage, and second, a high-powered Ku-band multi spot beam payload (HTS).
The traditional wide-beam mission consists of 54 (36 MHz equivalent) transponders that will provide state-of-the-art replacement and growth capacity for SES’s existing DTH, government and VSAT customers allowing for a seamless transition from NSS-6 to SES-12. In addition, the design provides incremental growth capacity to support new DTH platforms and other services targeting the Asia-Pacific region. The second mission consists of 70 Ku-band spot beams and 11 Ka-band spot beams delivering over 14 GHz for VSAT, Enterprise, Mobility and Government applications. This mission also includes a Digital Transparent Processor (DTP) which provides anti-jamming capabilities as well as increased payload flexibility in order to provide customised bandwidth solutions to SES customers.
“I salute SES’s ambitions when it comes to innovation and responsiveness in a rapidly changing market, and we are pleased to be able to provide them with our very best technology for both the payload and the platform,” said Airbus Defence and Space head of space systems Francois Auque. He added, “We have been using electric propulsion for station-keeping for 10 years now and have equipped 10 Eurostar E3000 satellites with this technology, which we are now also offering for initial orbit raising. The resulting weight saving will enable us to combine two high-capacity missions equivalent to two conventional satellites in one satellite, SES-12.”
SES-12 is the eleventh spacecraft that SES has ordered from Airbus Defence and Space, eight of these satellites are in operational service, one is ready to be launched and a tenth, ordered this year, is currently under construction. The satellite operator has decided that it will keep its annual spending to around Euro 450 million. It has also drawn up a five year plan, as part of which SES from 2014 to 2018 will spend a total of Euro 2.3 billion. It currently has four satellites under construction, including SES-12. Plans are also afoot to start more five satellite builds during this five year period.
SES chief technology officer Martin Halliwell said, “We look forward to working again with Airbus Defence and Space on this important addition to our global fleet. SES-12 will greatly expand our capacity over Asia and is fully in line with our capital expenditure plan. Through its unique hybrid DTH/HTS design, SES-12 will continue to support our growing DTH platforms and provide a new, lower cost HTS product, further enhancing our customer’s options for growth.”