Airbus has been awarded a contract to build and launch an all-electric satellite on behalf of Arabsat. Earlier this month, the European aerospace manufacturing company announced plans to develop the satellite. Known as the BADR-8, it’s the successor to the BADR-7 telecommunications satellite.
With a projected price of $300 million, Airbus’s new all-electric satellite isn’t cheap by any means. Nonetheless, it could signal a new era for telecommunications satellites. Most telecommunications satellites use a chemical-based method of propulsion. To move around in their respective orbit, they release propellant. When released, the chemical-based propellant “pushes” the satellite in the opposite direction. Airbus’s new BADR-8 satellite doesn’t use a chemical-based propellant. Rather, it features an all-electric propulsion system.
Airbus is building, as well as launching, the BADR-8 telecommunications satellite for the company Arabsat. Arabsat currently operates a network of about a half-dozen telecommunications satellites. As previously mentioned, however, the BADR-8 satellite is distinguished from its counterparts by its use of an all-electric propulsion system. Without the need for chemical storage tanks, the BADR-8 will weigh less than other satellites. And with a lighter weight, it will be easier for Airbus to launch.
The downside to all-electric satellites is that they move more slowly than their satellites with a chemical-based propulsion system. Although it will use a revolutionary all-electric propulsion system, the BADR-8 won’t last forever. Nonetheless, Airbus says it will last longer than the 15-year timeframe for most other satellites.
“BADR-8 incorporates the best of our expertise and technologies, including a very innovative optical communications hosted payload. This further strengthens our continuing strategic partnership with the Arab Satellite Communications Organisation, which has been connecting people by satellite across the Middle East and the world for more than 40 years,” said Airbus’s Jean-Marc Nasr in a press release.
Many people associate Airbus with commercial airliners. After all, Airbus’s main money-making activities involve manufacturing jets for commercial airlines. While Airbus isn’t expected to stop manufacturing airliners, it conducts other money-making activities, one of which being the manufacturing and launching of satellites. The BADR-8 satellite is one of the latest satellite projects tasked by the European aerospace manufacturing company. Airbus will manufacture and launch the all-electric telecommunications satellite for Arabsat.
Airbus is expected to launch the BADR-8 telecommunications satellite sometime in 2023. Once launched, Airbus says it will take the BADR-8 about four or five months to reach its intended destination in Earth’s orbit.