all the defense and aerospace news
defense news
aerospace news

Astrium Hands Over Second Comms Sat to German Forces

OTTOBRUNN, Germany --- The second dedicated military communications satellite for the German armed forces is now operational, having completed in-orbit testing on 8 July 2010. The latest series of tests covered the satellite platform, the payload, and the components of the satellite’s secure control system.

With this final milestone, the conditions for in-orbit delivery of the second satellite to the Bundeswehr IT Office have been fully met, and today Astrium will be handing over the COMSATBw-2 satellite to its future end user, the German armed forces, only seven weeks after it was launched into space.

The two dedicated military communications satellites at the heart of the SATCOMBw Step 2 programme will for the first time provide the German armed forces with an independent infrastructure enabling troops deployed on missions outside Germany to benefit from their own secure information network. The fully autonomous network supports the transmission of voice, data and multimedia applications around the globe.

“With the delivery of the second military satellite, the project SATCOMBw Step 2 has reached an important milestone. The armed forces now have two of their own communications satellites, so that they are able to support missions almost world-wide in a flexible way,” said Wolfgang Stolp, President of the Federal Office for information management and information technology of the Bundeswehr (IT-AmtBw). “Now that the test phase for the second satellite has been concluded successfully, we can assert that the satellite and all its components fulfill all specifications. The contractor, MilSat services GmbH, supplied us, in co-operation with Astrium GmbH, with a product, that so far fits the high quality requirements of a space programme and will enable both satellites to successfully fulfill their mission for the next 15 years.”

“With the handover of the second communications satellite, the military space segment of SATCOMBw Step 2, for which Astrium is responsible, is now fully operational and complete”, said Evert Dudok, CEO of Astrium Satellites. “We have reached another important milestone for the satellite communications of the Bundeswehr and Astrium has further established itself as a reliable supplier of military space systems. In addition to the delivery of portable ground stations for data transmissions, Astrium will now take over the satellite operation for the armed forces through its sister company MilSat Services.”

The entire system including ground user stations is scheduled for entry into operational service by the end of 2011. This is an important step forward for the Bundeswehr in its plans to implement an integrated system of network-centric command and control, given that communication by satellite is the only means of transmitting information flexibly and independently of the local infrastructure in the theatre of operations.

After the launch of the 2.4-metric-ton satellite from Kourou in French Guiana on 22 May 2010, the DLR control centre in Oberpfaffenhofen took over responsibility for the satellite’s control through its global network of control stations. The satellite reached its geostationary orbit position at 13° East on 27 May 2010, where it proceeded to unfold its solar arrays and antennas. It subsequently underwent a full programme of functional and payload tests, the results confirmed within the agreed performance parameters. The satellite is now ready-to-operate. Immediately following its in-orbit delivery on 8 July 2010, the Bundeswehr officially became the owner of the new satellite, which it intends to place in operational service as soon as possible.

For SATCOMBw Step 2, MilSat Services GmbH is prime and the programme comprises the delivery of two communications satellites designed to operate in the military frequency bands, their placement in geostationary orbit, their operation by the DLR control centres, the delivery of transportable ground stations for use by the Bundeswehr, and performance upgrades of the Bundeswehr’s existing command and control segment. MilSat Services will also provide the German armed forces with access to transmission capacity on the commercial satellites operated by Intelsat.

The contract for the satellite communications programme is valid for a period of ten years from the date of signature in July 2006, with an option for extension by seven-and-a-half years. The contract was issued by the Federal Office for Bundeswehr Information Management and Information Technology (IT-AmtBw).

The main industrial contractor is MilSat Services GmbH (MSS), a project management company created by Astrium Services in Munich and ND SatCom Defence (NDD) in Friedrichshafen specifically for the purpose of managing the SATCOMBw programme. Astrium Services holds a 74.9-percent share in the joint venture, while the remaining 25.1 percent is held by ND SatCom Defence.

In its role as prime industrial contractor, MSS is responsible for system design and implementation, and for the co-ordinated operation of the space, ground and control segments. Thales Alenia Space has designed, manufactured, integrated, tested and delivered on-ground the satellites to Astrium. Astrium’s German subsidiary TESAT manufactured the essential parts of the payload. The main subcontractors of MSS are Astrium Satellites, NDSatcom, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), and the satellite operator Intelsat.

Astrium, a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2009, Astrium had a turnover of EUR 4.8 billion and more than 15,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segment and Astrium Services for the development and provision of secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security satellite communications equipment, geo-information products and services, and navigation services.

EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2009, EADS generated revenues of EUR 42.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 119, 000.

In-Orbit Delivery: Astrium Hands over Second Communications Satellite to German Armed Forces