Germany Moves Ahead with Heinrich Hertz Demo Satellite

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PARIS — German space hardware manufacturer OHB AG on May 10 said it had signed a contract with the German Aerospace Center, DLR, for the definition phase of Germany’s Heinrich Hertz telecommunications technology-demonstration satellite, which is now scheduled for launch in 2016.

The 15-month contract, valued at 11 million euros ($14.3 million), appears to put the long-delayed project back on the front burner of German government space priorities. DLR is coordinating the effort but will share responsibility for payload selection with the German Defense Ministry following an agreement between the two agencies signed in 2011.

German defense forces will be given the use of part of the satellite’s payload.

Heinrich Hertz will use the Small-Geo platform being developed by Bremen-based OHB under contracts with the 19-nation European Space Agency (ESA), which is financing the effort mainly with German government money. The goal of the Small-Geo project is to give Europe, and notably Germany, a new commercial satellite product line for telecommunications missions in geostationary orbit.

With ESA support, OHB is already building a commercial Small-Geo-based telecommunications satellite for Spanish satellite fleet operator Hispasat. The company is also building a platform to be used to carry one of two European Data Relay Service payloads to relay satellite Earth observation data from low-orbiting observation spacecraft and ground stations.