Hispasat, Astrium Launch Europe's First Configurable Ku-band Antenna

Madrid, Spain, October 22, 2013 — Hispasat, the Spanish satellite communications operator, and Astrium España (EADS CASA Espacio), have unveiled an innovative antenna that will enable the Hispasat AG1 satellite to change coverage in orbit to adapt more efficiently to customers' needs.

Called the DRA-ELSA reconfigurable antenna, the device is believed to be the largest and most complex such antenna developed to date in Europe.

This antenna will be installed in the Hispasat AG1 satellite and boasts four simultaneous beams in the Ku-band with state-of-the-art features, enabling the operator to optimize its service in the dynamic current communications market environment.

Hispasat AG1 is the first mission of the Small GEO platform, developed by OHB Systems (Germany) in partnership with the European Space Agency and Hispasat.

It will be launched in 2015, will have a lift-off mass of 3.2 tons and will carry up to 20 transponders in the Ku-band and up to 3 in the Ka-band, as well as this new active antenna with reconfigurable beams. DRA-ELSA is the first active antenna manufactured in Europe to operate in the commercial market in the Ku-band.

The developers said the new antenna enables the operator to adapt to potential changes in the mission after the satellite has been launched such as the incorporation of new customers, a change in orbital position, etc. This means that Hispasat will now enjoy maximum operational flexibility and be able to adapt its services to a host of new and different scenarios.

The presentation ceremony of the antenna earlier this week was attended by the Spanish Industrial Technology Development Centre (CDTI), which is co-financing the AG1 project.

Satellite maker Astrium said Hispasat AG1 satellite’s four beams can be pointed at any Earth location, and it will be possible to modify both pointing and coverage throughout its useful life. This means that Hispasat can easily adapt to the precise needs of every customer at any time by configuring the DAR-ELSA antenna from the ground control station.

For this purpose a method has also been developed for regulating the antenna which provides the system with complete operational capacity. This antenna is also better insulated than other communications systems and against possible interference.

Hispasat AG1 incorporates the innovative REDSAT payload with a regenerative on-board processor, which will enable Hispasat to use the satellite's capacity more flexibly and efficiently, significantly increasing transmission capacity with the consequent reduction in the cost of communications.

Hispasat AG1 will be used by the Hispasat Group to boost its leadership in the broadcasting and distribution of Spanish and Portuguese content, including transmission on important digital Direct-To-Home (DTH) and High Definition Television (HDTV) platforms. 

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