Utilisation of space by man will be characterised by considerable growth in
the years and decades to come. Not only the use of communication satellites
for various applications, but also the utilisation of the International
Space Station that is currently being built, will considerably increase
commercial interest in development and research in space: Once the necessary
pre-requisites are established (e.g. secured access and cost of laboratory
utilisation, provision of feeder flights, research results covered by
patents), industry will make extensive use of the opportunities provided for
product development under microgravity conditions. This space
commercialisation process is accompanied by the market’s demand for a
substantial reduction in the cost of transporting payloads into orbit.

Astrium has already a lead-management function in the Ariane 5 Plus
programme which is intended to increase the payload capacity of the European
launcher system from six to twelve tons without increasing launch costs.
Modification of the Ariane 5 upper stage carried out by Astrium’s Space
Infrastructure division will also allow the transport of several payloads
(satellites in particular) to different orbit locations on the one flight.
Thus, launching costs per kilogram of payload will be reduced significantly.
However, other space nations such as the United States, Russia and China are
working on similar projects. To safeguard its competitive position in the
medium and long term, Europe needs an additional, cost-effective means of
transport that may be used independent of other nations.

HOPPER: Europe’s autonomous transport vehicle

In its HOPPER concept, Astrium has gone for an autonomous transport system
that is noted for its high degree of reusability and comparatively low
mission costs. Although the unmanned HOPPER is very similar in appearance to
the US Space Shuttle there are, however, some substantial differences: The
system will be launched horizontally on a skid sled running on a four
kilometre long track. The vehicle itself is more compact than the Space
Shuttle. The re-entry angle will be optimised so as to keep the frictional
heat at the outer skin substantially lower than that of the Space Shuttle.
This will allow the sensitive and expensive thermal protection shield to be
replaced by an affordable, low-maintenance heat protection system. Due to
these features, Hopper is intended to transport payloads to orbit at 75%
lower cost than conventional transport systems.

HOPPER can carry payloads of up to 7.5 tons and will deploy them -as a rule
a satellite on an upper stage booster- from its tail at an altitude of 130
kilometres and then automatically return to Earth while the payload proceeds
independently to its destination in geostationary or low-earth orbit
(smaller satellites). HOPPER will be launched from the European Space Centre
in Kourou, French Guiana. However, due to its trajectory, it can only land
several thousand kilometres away from the launch site on European territory,
on islands in the Atlantic. HOPPER can be transported back either by ship or
by the Cargo-Lifter that is currently being developed. Should the European
Space Agency ESA decide in favour of the HOPPER concept the space vehicle
will be ready for use by the year 2015.

PHOENIX: Proof of technologies

Astrium is currently involved in the German development programme ASTRA
(selected systems and technologies for future space transport system
applications). This programme focuses on the construction and testing of a
demonstrator, which will serve as predecessor to HOPPER. This technology
demonstrator, PHOENIX, requires a financial outlay of about 16 million
euros. These costs are jointly covered by private enterprise (about EUR 7.5
million from own funds), the state of Bremen (about EUR 5 million), the
German government and the German Aerospace Centre DLR. A flight demonstrator
is required, as physical influences in the atmosphere do not allow all the
design features to be demonstrated by computer simulation or wind tunnel

PHOENIX, the testing of which is scheduled for completion by the end of
2003, is just under seven metres long, has a weight of 1,200 kilograms and a
wingspan of 3.8 metres. The vehicle, being built at the Astrium site in
Bremen, will not have a propulsion system of its own for the flight tests. A
helicopter will drop it from an altitude of 3,500 metres. A GPS-based
navigation system and onboard sensors – for example a radar altimeter – will
control and monitor the flight path and measure all the relevant data.
Touchdown will be automatic. For both, PHOENIX and HOPPER, tried and tested
technologies will largely be used to keep development and future mission
costs as low as possible and to minimise the development risk.

ASTRA: Development basis for future transport systems

ASTRA is the German contribution to the European development of reusable
transport systems and goes thus beyond the PHOENIX project. Co-ordinated by
DLR and funded to the tune of 40 million euros, the ASTRA programme is
intended to gain the necessary system competence for autonomous access to
space. Programme activities cover a wide spectrum, from ground facilities to
payload delivery mechanisms and the creation of maintenance instructions for
the transport system. In addition to Astrium and DLR, companies such as
MAN-Technologie, OHB-System and Kayser-Threde, the Centre for Applied Space
Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) at the University of Bremen as well as
three special research departments of the German Society for the Advancement
of Scientific Research (DFG) at the Technical Universities of Aachen, Munich
and Stuttgart are involved in the programme.Astrium is a joint company of
EADS European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company and BAE Systems.

Paris/Le Bourget, June 2001

Your contact: Astrium Space Infrastructure

Mrs. Kirsten Leung

Phone: tel: +49-421-539-5326

fax: +49-421-539-4534