On the 13th of March 2013 a new space sector company announced its goals. The company is called Swiss Space Systems and it aims to provide launching opportunities for small satellites. A Kosmonauta.net representative was present at the debut announcement of this company.
Small satellites are to be a fast developing segment of the space sector. In fact, various analyses suggest that before 2020 over one hundred micro and nanosatellites will be built and waiting for their flight into orbit each year. This is a much higher number than current values and currently existing launch rockets might not always be suitable to launch such miniaturized satellite.
Who will launch these miniaturised satellites? Right now several countries and private companies are building their systems to serve small satellites. Among them there is an European entity – Swiss Space Systems (S-3). Their official announcement was made on the 13th of March 2013 in Payerne, Switzerland. A Kosmonauta.net representative was present at the debut announcement of this company.
S-3’s goal is to build an air-launched, reusable suborbital mini-shuttle, which would serve as a stage for a small rocket. This rocket would in turn deliver small satellites to low-Earth orbit (LEO), also into high inclination. The maximum payload capability of the S-3 system to LEO is around 250 kg. The small reusable mini-shuttle would be air-launched from the top of Airbus 300 aircraft and would land at existing airports.
Swiss Space Systems / Credits – SwissSpaceSystems
According to S-3 representatives, in 2014 mock up test flights should begin. Next, in 2015 their first spaceport should begin its operations. The location of first spaceport would be Payerne, in Switzerland. One year later, in 2016 the flight model of the reusable mini-shuttle should begin its assembly. The whole system should be ready for test flights and validation in 2017.
If these milestones are achieved, the S-3 system will enter the market at the time of increased interest in miniaturized satellites. Thus, the S-3 system might cover a part of this market, which might be an important topic from the perspective of European small satellite projects.
Before its public announcement, S-3 acquired several key partners, both technical, who will assist in the development of the space system and organisational, who are interested in operations of this launch system. These are: the European Space Agency (technical advice and coordination), Sonaca (aerostructure and heat shields), SAS (simulations and avionics), Deimos (ground systems and mission analysis), Dassault (overall space system) and various potential future launch sites, e.g. located in Marocco and Malaysia.
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