HummingSat is a small, innovative telecommunications satellite developed by Vaud-based SWISSto12 in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) through its public-private-partnership program. SWISSto12 supplied the project with its unique and patented 3D printing technologies.
Intelsat, operator of the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network, has placed an order for the geostationary “HummingSat” satellite, which will be called Intelsat 45. Scheduled for launch in 2025, Intelsat 45 (IS-45) will provide Ku-band fixed-satellite services enabling Intelsat to provide specialized and efficient service to Media and Network customers.
Jean-Luc Froeliger, SVP Space Systems at Intelsat, said: “The SWISSto12 product brings two innovations to meet our business needs. The small size addresses a gap in our fleet strategy, enabling us to be increasingly more targeted to meet specific customer requirements. In addition, the additive-manufacturing process used for this spacecraft is paving the way for faster satellite build cycles in the future. We are confident in the HummingSat technology and want to support the success of new players in the field of commercial communication satellites.”
A new chapter in the satellite communications industry
Named after the tiny, agile, fast-moving and yet apparently stationary hummingbird, HummingSats are just over one cubic meter in volume, which is three to ten times smaller than conventional satellites that are placed in geostationary orbit, some 36’000 kilometers above the Earth. It complements the much larger legacy spacecrafts commercialized by established companies, by providing a cost-effective opportunity to boost and expand capacity where needed. Each HummingSat is designed to launch as a rideshare mission on a rocket carrying one or more large spacecraft to orbit. The new satellite product line recently passed its system requirements review, assessed by a panel of ESA experts.
Emile de Rijk, SWISSto12 founder and CEO, concluded: “The award of the IS-45 program by Intelsat is a landmark moment for SWISSto12. We are humbled to embark on this journey with Intelsat, who are the foundational architects of satellite communications. It is unprecedented for a specialist high growth scale up to secure a contract of this depth with a leading telecommunications operator. It provides a solid start to our HummingSat product line to open a new chapter in the satellite communications industry.”