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Ariane 5 Launches Europe’s Advanced Data-driven Satellite

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
October 24, 2021
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SES-17 satellite prior to being placed on Ariane 5. (Credit: ESA/CNES/ArianeSpace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — One of the largest telecommunications satellites ever built in Europe has been launched and is on its way to geostationary orbit.

The satellite includes cutting-edge technology developed under ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems. It will connect underserved areas and accelerate digital inclusion, as well as providing broadband connectivity for commercial shipping and aviation through its operator, SES.

Called SES-17, the satellite has a new very powerful on-board processor to manage high-speed data traffic in a flexible and efficient way. It belongs to a new generation of data intensive high-throughput or very-high-throughput satellites and uses a fifth-generation digital transparent processor for more capacity and flexibility.

It has an innovative cooling system developed under the ESA Spacebus Neo Partnership Project with the French Space Agency, CNES, and satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space, and used for the first time on a large commercial telecommunications satellite.

SES-17 was launched together with Syracuse 4, another Spacebus Neo satellite, on board an Ariane 5.

ESA Partnership Projects help to derisk partners’ investment by boosting innovation and thereby achieving a competitive leap forward in the highly dynamic market for very-high-throughput satellites.  

ESA’s Neosat programme comprises both Spacebus Neo by Thales Alenia Space and Eurostar Neo by Airbus. It includes development up to in-orbit validation of new satellite product lines for both companies, allowing the European space industry to deliver competitive satellites for the global commercial satellite market.

To date, 15 Neosat satellites have been sold by European industry to six satellite operators, generating exceptional return on investment to industry and participating states.

Elodie Viau, ESA’s Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, said: “I am proud to witness the successful launch of SES-17 and Syracuse 4, which serves as a show-case for how ESA is pushing the boundaries of technology, supporting the European space industry on the world market and introducing innovative services for European citizens.

“ESA fosters innovation in the European space industry, enabling it to succeed in the highly competitive, fast evolving global telecommunications markets. Investing in space creates jobs and prosperity on Earth. I congratulate all the teams from our private partners and from ESA for their collaboration leading to this success.”

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