Thales Alenia Space to Propel New KARI Satellite

13th Feb 2023
Thales Alenia Space to Propel New KARI Satellite

Thales Alenia Space has signed a deal with the KARI (Korea Aerospace Research Institute), agreeing to provide electric propulsion for their GEO-KOMPSAT-3 satellite.

The company is a joint venture between Thales, who own 67% and Leonardo who own 33%. Originally based in France and Italy, the company first opened its UK operation in Bristol in 2014.

Thales Alenia Space propulsion systems

TETRA is the name given to the line of electric propulsion systems made by the brand. It is designed and produced in the UK, and has been built off the back of the SpaceBus NEO platform propulsion subsystem, built with the support of the UK Space Agency and ESA, and used to propel Eutelsat’s KONNECT, which provides broadband to Europe and Africa. 

This is an effort requiring a lot of European cooperation. Thales Alenia Space in Belgium will provide the Propulsion Power Unit, and Thales in Germany will provide the electric thruster. 

TETRA is a lightweight and efficient option and it is easy to accommodate in terms of electrical demands. It also has a long lifespan and Thales Alenia Space are hoping it can play a key part in many different applications such as mega-constellations and observation satellites, as well as in-orbit servicing.

Longstanding partners

The GEO-KOMPSAT-3 satellite still has some time before launch, as it is scheduled for 2027. This is another communications satellite, and is designed to provide satellite communications in maritime areas around the Korean Peninsula, as well as supporting rescue and protection efforts and monitoring water disasters. The satellite will have a Data Collection System mission as well as a Satellite Based Augmentation System mission

This collaboration between the Thales Alenia Space company and the South Korean agency is the latest in a long line, as they worked together on geostationary missions including predecessors GEO-KOMPSAT-2A and 2B, as well as the Koreasat satellite telecommunications family (Koreasat 5, 5A, 6 and 7), Earth observation missions (KOMPSAT-3A, 5, 6 and 7 and CAS-500 family), and more.

Andrew Stanniland, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Thales Alenia Space in the UK, spoke about what the contract meant for the companies: “We are extremely proud to work with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute. This contract, which adds to Thales Alenia Space’s long success story in Korea, confirms our impressive track record for designing and delivering innovative electric propulsion systems for satellites and satellite constellations. We look forward to bringing the breadth of expertise and talents to support the Korea Aerospace Research Institute.” 

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