Thales Alenia Space and QinetiQ present small multi-mission satellites in very low Earth orbit – SatNews

A satellite

Thales Alenia Space and QinetiQ have signed a study contract with the European Space Agency to pave the way for the exploitation of small multi-mission satellites in Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO).

The Phase A/B1 study will advance the design of the Skimsat demonstrator, a VLEO (

Skimsat’s compact size will allow it to be compatible with launch vehicles designed for small satellites in terms of dimensions, such as those currently being developed in the UK, to provide customers with significantly shorter delivery times than traditional satellite launch vehicles. of similar capacity.

The study is led by Thales Alenia Space in the UK and the QinetiQ Space team in Belgium and is funded under ESA’s Discovery Readiness and Technology Development (DPTD) activities. Payloads using the Skimsat multi-mission platform will be identified as part of the in-orbit demonstration study to show VLEO applications prior to the first commercial mission. This new initiative is fully in line with Thales Alenia Space’s new space approach and reflects the company’s ability to meet disruptive needs in partnership with smaller companies.

Andrew Stanniland Managing Director of Thales Alenia Space in the UK commented, “This important study for in-orbit demonstration in VLEO brings together the technical excellence of our pioneering teams based in the UK, working in close partnership with the QinetiQ Space team in Belgium. The Skimsat concept is a breakthrough innovation that will completely change the Earth observation market by challenging the traditional use of high altitudes that avoid air drag and creating a new business model for high-resolution imagery using lifetime and time delay. execution times and thus offering the market the advantages of more profitable satellites.

Frank Preud’homme, Sales and Business Development at QinetiQ in Belgium said, “We are excited about the development of the next-generation satellite platform. We are happy to provide our customers with the quality, reliability and know-how of PROBA platforms combined with the advantages of flight in Very Low Earth Orbit. We look forward to working with Thales Alenia Space and making this a reality.

“This development activity will pave the way to address and validate the specific needs and challenges of flying in very low Earth orbit. This will open new opportunities for innovative applications, whether for the commercial market or the scientific community.”added Stefanie Kohl, ESA system engineer.

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