European Space Agency

Generic Flexible Payload Solution


The main objectives of the study was to address the following points:

  • definition of solutions for answering two major Operators needs,
  • analysis of various flexible payload scenarios, from a technical, programmatic  and market standpoint
  • definition and specification of generic Payload architectures 
  • identification of the associated key Payload developments for the next phase (EQMs complementary to on-going FLIP and ARTES developments).

The project was aiming at a recurrent hardware implementation that would satisfy a large portion of the operators requirements with the objective to define the key development strategic axis for Thales Alenia Space. To achieve this objective, two main European Operators contributed to the establishment of mission specifications, to take into account real needs for flexible payload solutions definition.


Main challenge was the definition of Flexible Payload Solutions in line with the Operator views and needs (based on their requirements) and compatible of the cost targets in line with the current commercial market.


The main benefit of flexible payloads is to overcome the limitations of the current payloads that are ‘tailor-made’ solutions with limited flexibility and limited generic hardware and to answer to the following expected capabilities.

  • More flexibility to meet the changing market landscape and to cope with different orbital positions, perhaps in different regions,
  • Capability to adapt the satellite use to the real and moving traffic.
  • Capability to catch the volatile or emergent markets
  • Better optimization of the fleet management: having on back-up satellite for several services optimizes redundancy for a given orbital position and coverage.
  • Shorter schedules since there would be less non-recurrent activities,
  • Lower cost because of the use of the generic hardware,
  • Lower risks since the units are generic and therefore the production runs are higher.


4 payload architectures have been defined to answer the Customer requirements:

  • Architecture N°1 : defined to answer requirements of Customer N°1 assuming following main features
    • Limited to Ku-bands used for telecommunication applications and excluding frequency bands dedicated to BSS application (excluding Ku+ in Rx and frequency band 11.7 – 12.5 GHz for Tx)
    • Generation of several flexible beams – 4 minimum
  • Architecture N°2 : defined to answer requirements of Customer N°2 assuming following main features
    • possible use of all the Ku frequency bands including bands dedicated to BSS application
    • generation of a single flexible beam
  • Architecture N°3 : introduction of active antennas for missions answering to Customer N°1
  • Architecture N°4 = introduction of multibeam antenna to enhance satellite offered capacity and to optimize the     payload cost/MHz 

As a conclusion of the study, the following main units have been defined as candidate for developments :

  • DTP processor as the core of the payload
  • RF to IF and IF to RF frequency converters
  • Amplification chains compatible of MPA and active antennas
  • Antenna with selectable sub-reflectors (SSRA)
  • Anti-jamming Rx antenna based on passive reconfigurable concept


Generic Flexible Payload Solutions answering 2 main Customers have been defined. Needed products development plan has been defined and completed. Outline proposals have been submitted to ESA 

Current status

All key reviews (Mission Review, MTR, FR) have been held successfully.

The project documentation is completed.

Status date

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 10:15