Satnews Daily
September 15th, 2016

Thales Alenia Space & LeoSat Tie Won On With Constellation Contract

An upcoming constellation of satellites will feature some innovative technologies as well as the incorporation of tried and tested systems, such as optical inter-satellite links, gigabit class, onboard processors, flexible steering antennas as well as RF over PCB.

The constellation is the creation of LeoSat Enterprises and that firm has just signed Thales Alenia Space for the phase B contract for the development of their LEO constellation, bringing very-high-speed broadband, low latency and secure global connectivity, according to the company.

Photo: (l) Jean-Loïc Galle, the CEO of Thales Alenia Space, (r) Mark Rigolle, the CEO of LeoSat Enterprises.

Following the initial phase resulting in the preliminary definition of the LeoSat constellation, which validated the technical feasibility of the system and its compatibility with other Ka-band services, the current phase B concerns the detailed definition of the overall system architecture and performance specifications, including the ground and space segments. Also provided will be the framework needed to establish an optimized organization for production and deployment.

The LeoSat constellation will be comprised of from 78 to 108 high-power Ka-band satellites in LEO, providing global service for large corporations and government agencies. Through the use of tracking spot beams and specific anti-interference techniques, the constellation is designed to prevent interference with geostationary satellite orbiting systems (GSO) and non-geostationary satellite orbiting systems operating in the same frequency band (NGSO). The system is also designed to support and co-exist with anticipated terrestrial use of Ka frequencies and will use the enhanced EliteBus™ platform, offering higher payload power and mass while optimizing launch cost and schedule.

LeoSat will rely on Thales Alenia Space’s industrial organization and capability developed in the frame of previous constellations, such as O3b and Iridium Next, delivering a total of 125 LEO/MEO satellites. For such constellations, the key is to master critical technologies and mass production. LeoSat will count on Thales Alenia Space’s innovative industrial approach based on cobotics (collaborative robotics) to increase productivity of Assembly Integration & Tests sequences. LeoSat will also benefit from the efficient and safe use of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf-Components (COTS) for high integration and mass production technologies as well as for cost effective manufacturing and test to reach the optimum trade-off between performance, reliability and investment.

Thales Alenia Space, which recently acquired RUAG's opto-electronics business, now has the ability to provide an in-house solution for the constellation’s critical optical inter-satellite link technology, which is key to overall system performance. RUAG brings to the table more than 20 years of experience in the engineering and production of optical communications terminals for spacecraft.  RUAG’s technical expertise in this specific area will help assure the LeoSat constellation will have the best and most vetted solution for their inter-satellite links.  The final configuration and design will be completed during the upcoming Phase B.

According to Jean-Loïc Galle, the CEO of Thales Alenia Space, the phase B contract reflects the quality of his company's design work and the excellent teamwork between Thales Alenia Space and LeoSat throughout the feasibility phase. The companies will be working together to incorporate innovative solutions, based on proven expertise and long experience in the design, development and production of satellite system for LEO constellations. This latest phase will finalize the manufacturing plan, paving the way for the production and deployment of the entire constellation.

Mark Rigolle, the CEO of LeoSat Enterprises, added his firm is delighted to be moving forward with this important milestone for LeoSat, the building of a constellation that will provide the first commercially available, enterprise grade, extremely high speed and secure data service worldwide.  The company, in fact, has already signed the first customer contract.