A European Space Agency (ESA) telecommunications satellite that will provide broadband services to Europe, South America and the Canary Islands successfully entered Earth orbit 29 minutes after being launched from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on Saturday morning aboard a Soyuz rocket.
Over the next several weeks, the satellite will use its own thrusters to reach its ultimate destination, a geostationary orbit 36,000 miles above Earth’s equator.
The Hispasat 36W-1, which will hang over the Atlantic Ocean at 36 degrees West longitude, is the first satellite to use the new SmallGEO (SGEO) platform, which has a flexible design and the ability to accommodate a variety of commercial payloads for purposes such as TV broadcasting, Internet service, multimedia applications, and various other communication uses.
SGEO was designed by the German manufacturing company OHB System as part of the ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) program.
This particular mission is being conducted in partnership with the Spanish company Hispasat.
To make sure the sensitive technological equipment was not damaged during the launch, OHB will run a variety of tests on the satellite once it reaches its geostationary position.
If the tests show the satellite to be healthy, Hispasat will then take over its operations.
“The launch of this first SmallGEO platform marks another major success for ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems, known as ARTES, which aims to boost the competitiveness of its Member State industry through innovation,” announced Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications.
“SmallGEO is part of our continuous efforts to strengthen the position of European and Canadian industry in the commercial telecommunications market, expanding the current range of available products,” Vaissiere added.
The CEOs of both OHB and Hispasat expect this to be the first of many European satellites that will operate on the flexible, high-technology platform.