With space ever more embedded in our daily lives – each of us uses around 40 satellites per day – it is no surprise that we are seeing the space industry flourishing. Last year Airbus successfully launched 10 satellites and deployment of the OneWeb constellation reached 394 satellites, while new missions started with 12 more spacecraft in all domains: telecommunications, navigation, science and exploration.
Our satellites connect
From the four new telecoms satellites orbited last year to the new OneSat and Eurostar Neo contracts secured, there’s also no forgetting all that happens between contract signatures and launch, with key design milestones passed on our market leading OneSat, the first fully flexible, in-orbit reprogrammable satellite, and on the Skynet 6 and SpainSat military communications satellites for national customers in the UK and Spain.
Our satellites protect
Last year saw the launch of France’s three CERES reconnaissance satellites that are providing the nation with a signal intelligence capability rivalled by just a few in the world. Climate change was a topic high on all agendas with COP 26 in November and we continue to work on delivering space insights to help protect the planet with 20 of our satellites involved in climate change monitoring and 20 more in development.
Our satellites inform
We were very excited to orbit the first two Pléiades Neo satellites in Airbus’ very own 30cm resolution constellation bringing the world the most accurate images on the market – the remaining two satellites will join them in 2022.
Our satellites explore
In 2021, Airbus was honoured to form part of the international James Webb Telescope mission, providing one of the four instruments, NIRSpec, that will enable humanity to look back in time. It was launched on Ariane 5, built by Airbus’ Ariane Group subsidiary, with such accuracy that the telescope’s lifetime is now expected to be doubled.
The Artemis Moon-return missions remain a hot topic – with delivery of the second European Service Module (ESM) that will power the first crewed Orion spacecraft in 2023 and signature of a further three ESMs with our European Space Agency customer last year, as well as the very first uncrewed Artemis I launch to look forward to in the coming months.
Our satellites direct
Last year Airbus was awarded design and production of six Galileo 2nd Generation navigation satellites. Significantly different to the first generation, the new Airbus satellites will equip Galileo with the latest technologies in payload processing, beam forming networks, active antennas and electric propulsion on board a larger and a more capable platform – the Eurostar Neo, already developed for seven telecoms satellites as part of a fully digitalised production process.
Last but not least, for our satellites to accomplish all this, they need to operate in a safe and debris-free environment. This is why Airbus is happy to be working together with its SSTL subsidiary on a new UK Space Agency study. Airbus firmly believes that the international community has to act fast to put in place regulations that draw on what we’ve learnt from the misuse of our oceans and keep space clean.
In 2022, Airbus looks forward to another exciting year, made possible thanks to the Airbus Defence and Space who will again deliver the best space possible while always striving for What’s Next in space.