This project is supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) and is part of the public-private partnership for the development, launch and in-orbit validation of a fully electric propulsion telecommunications satellite in the launch mass range of three tons.
The launch of the first Electra satellite is scheduled for 2023.
SENER won a contract from OHB, the main contractor of the Electra program and one of the largest companies in the European space sector. OHB works with ESA in the public-private partnership mentioned above.
The contract awarded to SENER includes the design and manufacture of a set of mechanical ground support equipment (MGSE).
MGSE equipment is used, among other applications, for the precise movement of the satellite in several directions in order to facilitate both the access of technicians and their transport to test chambers or a launch rocket.
The manufacture of MGSE and the assembly of satellites represent important engineering challenges, since almost all satellites are unique. These constructions weigh from several hundred kilograms to several tons and consist of thousands of pieces and kilometers of cables.
The device designed by SENER for the Electra project will provide, among others, a safe and ergonomic support to the flight panels for the integration of the equipment. Thanks to the possibility of adjusting the configuration, MGSE devices with panels of various sizes and masses can be used.
In addition, SENER will provide other devices, such as a vertical support to hold the central structure of the satellite during the integration of the equipped panels and payload modules.
The Electra contract is another SENER project related to the manufacture of MGSE equipment.
Last year, the company supplied 13 devices for the Euclid mission, in which SENER was also responsible for the deployment of the antenna and the signaling mechanism.
In addition to this contract, in Electra the SENER group is responsible for the telemetry and remote control antennas in Ku band and two global coverage antennas, one for the transmission and the other for the reception, of the Electra project.
This team has already passed the Critical Design Review (CDR) and is waiting for the next stage of equipment manufacturing to begin.
The objective of Electra is to develop a new category of telecommunications satellites.
Thanks to the use of electric propulsion, its mass will be considerably reduced and, consequently, the cost of launching in orbit, compared to chemical propulsion satellites.
Electric propulsion is a growing solution in the space industry, as it has been shown that the mass of electric propulsion is up to 90% lower than traditional chemical propulsion. This translates into a reduction of almost half of the satellite mass.
If we take into account the high cost of putting a kilogram in orbit, such a large weight reduction allows a radical reduction in space mission costs and an increase in its availability for entities that previously could not afford it.
SENER Aerospace has been, for more than 50 years, a leading provider of high performance aerospace systems for Space, Defense and Science, with its own technological developments of high added value.
In Space, it supplies electromechanical, navigation (GNC/AOCS), communications, and optical systems, and participates in the main programs of ESA and NASA space agencies (among them, Euclid, Meteosat Third Generation, Solar Orbiter, JUICE, Proba -3, Hubble, Galileo, Rosetta, Gaia, Herschel and Planck, IXV, BepiColombo or Mars 2020) and the European space observatory ESO, as well as in the commercial market or New Space; in Defense, it develops electromechanical systems, COMINT (communications intelligence) and communications links (D-Link), as well as helicopter modernization services; in Astronomy and Science, it carries out precision mechanical equipment for terrestrial telescopes and engineering services; and, finally, at ATC & Broadcast, it is a provider of antennas and liabilities.