Washington: ESA is set to develop a new generation of satellites propelled by solar electric thrusters, following the signing of a contract with SES of Luxembourg for the next phase of the Electra project.
Electra is a partnership between ESA and satellite operator SES to define, develop and validate in space an electric-only propulsion platform for geostationary telecommunication satellites of around 3 tonnes launch mass.
The first launch is expected by the end of 2018.
Electra is the first partnership project established under ESA`s ARTES-33 programme, which supports market-driven innovations from industry that require flight heritage and in-orbit validation - proof that they work in space - so that they are more readily embraced by the marketplace.
ARTES-33 requires a partnership between a manufacturer and a user of the innovative capabilities and demands that innovation is validated in a commercially representative environment.
Through Electra, Europe`s new capability will serve the current and future needs of satellite operators in the geostationary segment for smaller satellites.