Caption for picture: Prime contractor OHB SE said the EDRS-C/Hylas-3 satellite, the second of the company's new SmallGEO product line, is on track for delivery to its launch site in early 2018, but not before. Credit: OHB  Prime contractor OHB SE said the EDRS-C/Hylas-3 satellite, the second of the company’s new SmallGEO product line, is on track for delivery to its launch site in early 2018, but not before. Credit: OHB


PARIS — Europe’s second laser-optical data-relay satellite and its telecommunications payload for commercial fleet operator Avanti Communications has overcome recent component issues but will not be ready for launch until early 2018, the satellite’s builder said.

Andreas Lindenthal, a member of the management board of EDRS-C/Hylas-3 prime contractor OHB SE of Germany, said the satellite likely will begin environmental testing at IABG, also in Germany, in August. He said the testing would last four or five months.

EDRS-C/Hylas-3 is scheduled for launch aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket. Once it is ready for shipment to Europe’s spaceport in South America, the launch’s timing would depend on launch-service provider Arianespace’s ability to find a heavier satellite to place into the Ariane 5 rocket’s upper berth.

Alternatively, the satellite could be launched aboard a medium-lift Europeanized Russian Soyuz rocket. EDRS-C/Hylas-3 is the second satellite using OHB’s SmallGEO platform. The first, the Hispasat 36W-1 owned by Hispasat of Spain, was launched aboard a Soyuz in January.

Lindenthal said in-orbit testing of Hispasat 36W-1 has progressed smoothly, with no major glitches, and that the satellite would be handed over to Hispasat in early May for commercial operations.

“Payload and IOT [in-orbit testing] has gone very well,” Lindenthal said April 3. The European and German space agencies have financed the development of SmallGEO, with Germany’s goal being a made-in-Germany commercial satellite platform.

The German space agency, DLR, and the German Ministry of Defense have tentatively agreed to order their own SmallGEO satellite, called Heinrich Hertz. Lindenthal said OHB remains confident that the final go-ahead decision on Heinrich Hertz would be made by the German parliament this spring.

EDRS-C is part of the European Data Relay Service program, financed by the European Space Agency, with the European Commission as anchor customer, and managed by Airbus Defence and Space as a public-private undertaking.

The European Commission will be using EDRS to speed delivery to users of data from some of the satellites in the Copernicus network of environment-monitoring spacecraft.

London-based Avanti will use the Hylas-3 Ka-band payload to expand its satellite-broadband business in Africa.

Like the Hispasat 36W-1 before it, EDRS-C/Hylas-3 is far behind schedule. OHB cited multiple issues in developing a new product line. Lindenthal said one of the recent issues was a third-party component that needed to be replaced after showing performance defects.

Shipping from OHB to IABG planned for August

“We have mounted the [laser-communications terminal] and we now have a clear plan to go to IABG in the summer to start the environmental testing,” Lindenthal said. “We are going much more quickly through the process of AIT [assembly, integration and testing] than what we had to do for the Hispasat satellite. I’ve discussed with IABG and they do not see any conflict on their side with other payloads.”

The testing at IABG will last until the end of this year and perhaps into early 2018, he said. Then the challenge will be to find a launch date in a crowded Arianespace manifest that has not been made easier by the ongoing strike at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, which is now entering its third week.

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Peter B. de Selding
Peter B. de Selding
Peter de Selding is a Co-Founder and editor for He started SpaceIntelReport in 2017 after 26 years as the Paris Bureau Chief for SpaceNews where he covered the commercial satellite, launch and the international space businesses. He is widely considered the preeminent reporter in the space industry and is a must read for space executives. Follow Peter @pbdes