European Space Agency

SMP Switch


SMP is aimed at developing the next generation of equipment for broadband satellite telecommunications in a cost effective manner.

The functions required for a wide range of processing missions, in Earth observation and science as well as telecoms, can be implemented using a generic set of modules, allowing the cost of development to be spread over multiple programmes.

The objective of this project is to develop and qualify the Switch element. This will include full environmental testing.


Building a high capacity digital process offers important challenges. Astrium is well placed, building on lessons learned from previous ESA programmes.

High capacity introduces local hot spots, so very careful thermal management of the design is maintained, with multiple back-up solutions, if difficulties are found late in the programme.

One of the key drivers is a cost effective product so Design for Manufacture and Design for Test are vital to keep recurring costs to a minimum.


Digital processors offer unparalleled flexibility to customers. In the commercial market, this has been evident for MSS customers for several years. It has not, however, been seen as cost effective for the larger FSS, BSS or broadboard markets.

SMP provides a flexible, cost effective solution which can offer real benefits to this wider market. It will allow customers to make a genuine trade-off between a simpler analogue based solution, compared to a much more capable digital option. This will open up new opportunities to better utilise the satellite bandwidth and power, offering the potential for an increase in useable capacity and efficiency.


SMP offers a scalable product suitable for a range of mission types. The primary drivers are to offer a cost effective solution that requires minimal schedule, risk and non-recurring expense when porting between different customers. Astrium has taken full advantage of feedback from previous programmes, including Inmarsat and NGP/Alphasat to create a design which is simple to build, modify and test, and is fully scalable to meet both small and large mission opportunities.


Qualification is planned for mid 2014.

Current status

The SMP Switch contract has carried out the Preliminary Design Review.

Status date

Monday, October 28, 2013 - 11:54