Micro-geostationary satellite enters design phase
Lausanne, March 22nd 2022
A small but powerful European telecommunications satellite – the first of a series – is to be developed under a contract signed between ESA and SWISSto12, an innovative company based in Renens, Switzerland.
The MicroGEO Partnership Project is part of ESA’s efforts to support fast, dynamic and agile private space firms to foster innovation and promote the competitiveness of the European space industry.
The slimline satellite will be placed into geostationary orbit some 36 000 kilometres above the Earth, from where it will stream data or broadcast television. Measuring just one cubic metre, the MicroGEO satellite will be one tenth the size of conventional geostationary satellites.
Because micro-geostationary satellites are small, lightweight and contain numerous innovations, they are much more affordable to build and launch. This enables satellite operators to offer tailored regional or gap-filling services that would not be financially viable using large satellites. Micro-geostationary satellites can also offer a competitive replacement option for some legacy geostationary satellites that have reached the end of their lifetime.
SWISSto12 will lead a consortium of European companies with established space technology and heritage. The new MicroGEO Partnership Project, co-funded by ESA, offers an opportunity for high returns on investment to industry and participating states.
The first satellite in this new product range is due for launch in 2025.
Josef Aschbacher, Director General of ESA, said: “The MicroGEO Partnership Project is a trend setter for ESA. We are working with SWISSto12, a dynamic and successful New Space company, leading a European consortium. The project was set up in a record time. There is a lot of interest in this new satellite, and a first commercial contract is expected to be signed in the coming weeks.
“As with all our Partnership Projects, ESA support is key for the space industry in Europe to succeed in the highly competitive world market of satellite telecommunications.”
Emile de Rijk, Chief Executive Officer of SWISSto12 said: “We are very excited to work in partnership with ESA and bring together a new and agile product to the geostationary telecommunications market. Both the SWISSto12 and the ESA teams are going to work hand-in-hand to deliver the first successful MicroGEO satellite in orbit – and unleash the potential of this emerging class of telecommunication satellites. SWISSto12 is hereby developing a strong position as a European provider of MicroGEO satellites to service the needs of telecommunication operators.”
Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said: “ESA is partnering with European small and medium-sized companies to foster cutting-edge innovation and space-based products and services in the highly competitive global market for telecommunications satellites.
“I am proud to be working with dynamic and fast-moving enterprises such as SWISSto12 to develop this new MicroGEO satellite product line in Europe. Such ESA Partnership Projects help to support agile private companies to de-risk their investments to meet the needs of the market.”