July 18, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

ESA hires three companies for zero-waste satellite platforms

ESA illustration of space debris. Credit: ESA
ESA Credit

Ibadan, July 1, 2024. – The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a contract with Airbus Defence and Space, OHB and Thales Alenia Space to develop large low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite platforms that meet Zero Waste standards.

This aligns with ESA’s commitment to deliver on the zero waste promise by 2030. As a result, ESA is supporting industry during the transition to ensure Europe can design and build compliant satellites on time. Accordingly, the three companies will design and develop zero waste platforms for large LEO satellites as a first step towards building zero waste production lines.

ESA’s Operations and Earth Observation Directorates jointly procured the ‘Evolution of large LEO platforms for phase 1 of the implementation of the zero-litter policy’. The contracts with Airbus Defence and Space, OHB and Thales Alenia Space are instrumental in developing zero-litter-ready satellites in congested low-Earth orbits. As such, each prime contractor will develop a standardised low-Earth orbit satellite platform that conforms to zero-litter standards.

The first phase aims to develop the satellite platform to the System Requirements Review (SRR) level and will last approximately 18 months starting in June 2024. During this phase, ESA will consider the main technical options and, consequently, establish a reference design. In Phase 2, prime contractors will partner with other technology providers to integrate new solutions and bring their platforms to the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) level, which assesses and tests various practical aspects of the design build.

Commenting on this development, Holger Krag, ESA's Head of Space Safety, said: “It is essential to invest now in the development of spacecraft platforms that meet zero-waste requirements. Platforms and their onboard waste prevention measures will need to become safer to preserve endangered lower Earth orbits for future use.”

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