Sener of Spain will be system prime contractor for the two-satellite Proba-3 formation-flying technology demonstrator under a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) that funds the project through its critical design review but does not yet include hardware construction.

Up to now, ESA has secured funding, notably from Belgium and Spain, for the design work on Proba-3 but is still waiting for additional funds to pursue the work beyond mid-2012, when the contract is scheduled to be completed, according to Diego Rodriguez, head of Sener’s space department.

Proba-3 is designed to launch two small satellites into a highly elliptical orbit to test maneuvers needed for future satellite systems flying in close formation. If the contract lineup remains unchanged, it will be the first time a Spanish company has had full leadership of an ESA mission.

GMV of Spain will build the formation-flying subsystem under the current contracting arrangement, while EADS CASA Espacio will build one of the two satellites.

Proba-3 would be the third small satellite technology demonstration mission managed by ESA as part of its General Support Technology Program.