ESA Extends OHB Small-Geo Contract

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PARIS — The European Space Agency (ESA) has extended its existing contract with OHB AG of Germany to develop a telecommunications satellite platform for commercial use to reduce the time and cost of the platform’s construction, Bremen-based OHB announced Sept. 29.

The new contract, valued at 14 million euros ($19 million), follows 118 million euros in ESA financing for OHB to design and build the Small-Geo platform. ESA governments, led by Germany, have decided to finance the Small-Geo development to give Europe a foot in the commercial small-satellite market, and to give Germany its own national telecommunications satellite builder.

OHB and ESA have negotiated with satellite fleet operator Hispasat of Spain to purchase the first Small-Geo model. The satellite, called Hispasat AG1, is scheduled for launch in 2013. OHB is also negotiating to sell Small-Geo units to the German government for a national telecommunications research satellite and to Astrium Services of Europe as part of an ESA-financed program called European Data Relay Satellite System.

In a Sept. 29 statement, OHB said the 14-million-euro contract extension will “prepare the Small-Geo platform for a broader target group in the market for commercial satellite services beyond the Hispasat AG1 mission. It includes measures to reduce the costs of the entire platform as well as production and process costs along with a product extension to optimize the platform for a large number of different communications services.”