OHB telecommunications satellite demonstrating full functional capability in orbit

First SmallGEO handed over to customer HISPASAT

Artist’s impression of the SmallGEO-satellite H36W-1 in space © ESA
Artist’s impression of the SmallGEO-satellite H36W-1 in space © ESA

Bremen June 02, 2017. Launched at the beginning of the year, the H36W-1 telecommunications satellite supplied by OHB System AG has been handed over to Spanish satellite operator HispaSat following the completion of an In Orbit Test period of more than 80 days. This trial confirms the design and configuration of the new European SmallGEO satellite platform, simultaneously testifying to the fact that the German space industry has regained system capabilities for telecommunications satellites.

“With the successful hand-over of the SmallGEO satellite H36W-1, OHB has achieved an important strategic goal which is of crucial importance for our company’s future development. At the same time, part of the national space strategy is being implemented with the return to system capability,” explained Marco Fuchs, the Chief Executive Officer of OHB System AG, at the hand-over of the satellite to HISPASAT. H36W-1 is the first satellite based on the SmallGEO platform developed by OHB. It was completed in the form of a private-public partnership comprising the European Space Agency (ESA), OHB and the HISPASAT. “I would like to thank the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) and the European Space Agency (ESA) as well as our customer HISPASAT for the good and collaborative joint activities. Whenever such a new product is developed, a high degree of reciprocal trust is required and this also applies to the teams. It is only with great personal dedication that we were jointly able to turn this vision into reality.”

H36W-1 during the antenna range test performed in September 2016 © ESA - P. Sebirot
H36W-1 during the antenna range test performed in September 2016 © ESA - P. Sebirot

Commencing service in space

“Our first SmallGEO satellite has impressively demonstrated its full functional capabilities in orbit. This means that the technical design underlying the new satellite platform has been confirmed,” said Dr. Dieter Birreck, the project manager at OHB System AG responsible for H36W-1. OHB’s first geostationary satellite completed the extensive in-orbit testing and maneuvers with flying colors. “It was extraordinary and intensive team work between the space industry, ESA and our customer. We are placing our satellite in the very experienced hands of HISPASAT and wish them every success!”

H36W-1 has already been integrated in the HISPASAT satellite fleet. From its geostationary position, which forms the basis of the satellite’s name, namely above 36 degrees longitude west, it will be providing Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands and South America with flexible broadband services over a period of a good 15 years.

Success for OHB and the OHB Group

OHB System AG acted as the industrial prime contractor for H36W-1, utilizing the expertise of three of its affiliates: OHB Sweden supplied innovative subsystems for the electrical satellite propulsion system as well as the pitch and orbit control system. Luxspace provided the telemetrics and telecommand subsystems and was also involved in validating them at the satellite level. It also contributed to the development of the satellite simulator. OHB Italia supplied the payload control unit and was also involved in the development of the thermal control subsystem.

German manufacturing input for H36W-1 was also high. OHB used the services of Tesat-Spacecom GmbH from Backnang as the principal contractor for the telecommunications payload, while Jena Optronik GmbH supplied the star sensors. Numerous other small and mid-size companies were also involved in the project.

SmallGEO-satellite H36W-1 during antenna alignment in January 2016 © OHB System AG
SmallGEO-satellite H36W-1 during antenna alignment in January 2016 © OHB System AG

The SmallGEO platform: Flexibility in the 3-ton class

Developed by OHB as part of the ESA ARTES program (Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems), the SmallGEO is a flexible geostationary satellite platform which can be tailored for different missions such as telecommunications, Earth observation and technology testing (in-orbit verification). With its modular structure, it can be configured flexibly to meet customers’ requirements. Customers can select a classic, hybrid or electric propulsion system for the satellite. Depending on the type, SmallGEO satellites have a launch mass of between 2,500 and 3,500 kg, with a permitted payload mass of between 450 and 900 kg. Measuring 3.7 x 1.9 x 2 meters, H36W-1 had a launch mass of 3,200 kg.

The next mission is already on the horizon

“With the hand-over of a fully functional SmallGEO satellite, we have passed a further milestone in our Company’s history by successfully entering the commercial market for telecommunications satellites. Eight SmallGEO satellite projects currently in the pipeline testify to the future viability of the platform,” says Management Board member Andreas Lindenthal, who is in charge of the Company’s operating business. “With the fully electric configuration of the SmallGEO making its debut in the Electra project, we have laid the right foundations for asserting ourselves on the commercial market in the long term.”

H36W-1: Integration at the OHB facilities was completed early in 2015 and the satellite was ready for the test campaign © OHB System AG
H36W-1: Integration at the OHB facilities was completed early in 2015 and the satellite was ready for the test campaign © OHB System AG

Thanks to the lower weight of the electrical propulsion system, this configuration can carry a substantially heavier payload. Electra is being developed and realized by OHB in a PPP project with ESA and Luxembourg satellite operator SES S.A. OHB Sweden is responsible for developing and testing the electric propulsion system and for supplying the position control software.

Further projects in the conventional telecommunications segment include EDRS-C (laser relay) and Heinrich Hertz (in-orbit verification of numerous national scientific and technical innovations as well as satellite communications for the German federal armed forces). Europe’s future fleet of weather satellites, the “Meteosat Third Generation” EUMETSAT satellites, is also based on the SmallGEO satellite platform.

About OHB System AG

OHB System AG is one of the three leading space companies in Europe. It belongs to listed high-tech group OHB SE, where around 2,200 specialists work on key European space programs. With two strong sites in Bremen and Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich and 35 years of experience, OHB System specializes in high-tech solutions for space. These include low-orbiting and geostationary satellites for earth observation, navigation, telecommunications, science and space exploration as well as systems for astronautic space flight, aerial reconnaissance and process control systems.

About ESA


The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Established in 1975 as an international organization, its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 member countries: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, the Czech Republic, Hungary and the United Kingdom. Slovenia is an associate member.

In addition it works formally with six EU member states. Canada takes part in some projects under a cooperation agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can execute programs and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. In addition, it is working closely with the EU on the execution of the Galileo and Copernicus programs and with EUMETSAT on the development of meteorology missions.

ESA develops launch vehicles, satellites and ground segments to ensure that Europe remains at the international vanguard in space projects.

It develops and launches earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy satellites, sends space probes into remote regions of the solar system and participates in human exploration of space. In addition, it conducts an extensive application program for developing earth observation, navigation and telecommunications services.


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Günther Hörbst
Head of Corporate Communications

Manfred-Fuchs-Platz 2-4
28359 Bremen

Phone.: +49 421 2020-9438
Mobile: +49 171 1931041
Email: guenther.hoerbst@ohb.de