Airbus Defence and Space announced recently it has made progress on developing two satellite platforms. Biomass, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) forest measuring satellite is taking shape at Airbus’ site in Stevenage with the Structure Model Platform completed. In line with UK government guidelines the Stevenage site is COVID-secure – enabling spacecraft production to continue safely. Assembly of the satellite’s mechanical structure could not be carried out as planned due to COVID. But during April and May 2020, the Airbus team put in place a digital solution to enable collaboration with ESA and suppliers, ensuring progress continued on the development of the satellite’s mechanical structure. Airbus teams finalised the structure build in the second half of 2020 and integration hardware onto the Structure Model Platform was completed in early January 2021. The Structure Model is now at Airbus Toulouse for its mechanical test campaign.
Biomass is an ESA Earth Explorer mission due to launch in 2022. It will measure forest biomass to assess terrestrial carbon stocks and fluxes for five years. The spacecraft will carry the first space-borne P-band synthetic aperture radar to deliver exceptionally accurate maps of tropical, temperate and boreal forest biomass that are not obtainable by ground measurement techniques.
Airbus Defence and Space also said it has successfully completed a key milestone in the manufacturing of the first Eurostar Neo satellite, with the successful integration of the Service and Communication Modules of EUTELSAT HOTBIRD 13F. Airbus’ Portsmouth team delivered the EUTELSAT HOTBIRD 13F Communications Module to Toulouse at the start of January 2021 where it joined the Stevenage and Toulouse produced Service Module. The EUTELSAT HOTBIRD 13F satellite is now beginning its final series of tests in preparation for its launch. With the new Eurostar Neo platform, the payload capacity can be greatly increased, with the Communication Module able to accommodate up to 2 tons of payload and provide payload power of more than 25kW. EUTELSAT HOTBIRD 13F and 13G will both have spacecraft power of 22 kW and a launch mass of only 4,500 kg.
Airbus’ Eurostar Neo platform has been developed in the frame of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Partnership Projects, together with the French space agency CNES, and supported by the UK Space Agency and other agencies across Europe.