Press Release

Anniversary at 36,000 km altitude

OHB’s first SmallGEO satellite in HISPASAT satellite fleet for one year now

Artist’s impression of the satellite H36W-1 in space
Artist’s impression of the satellite H36W-1 in space © OHB System AG

Bremen, June 13,  2018. The telecommunications satellite H36W-1 from OHB System AG, which was launched at the beginning of 2017, has been in HISPASAT service for one year now. As the name suggests, the satellite was placed in the constellation of the Spanish satellite operator at the geostationary position above the 36th western degree of longitude. From there, H36W-1 provides flexible broadband coverage in the Iberian Peninsula, the Canary Islands and South America.

H36W-1 was the result of a partnership between the European Space Agency (ESA) and HISPASAT, and was the first flight opportunity of the SmallGEO platform, which was developed by OHB System AG under ESA’s ARTES (Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems) Programme.

Antonio Abad, Chief Technical and Operations Officer from HISPASAT, declares: “We are very happy for the first anniversary of our satellite H36W-1. Being the first of our fleet incorporating electrical propulsion, it has become a leap in the way how the satellites are operated to which the Company has adapted satisfactorily. I express my gratitude to ESA and OHB System AG for the achieved work that made come true this important milestone according to the highest quality and reliability standards”.

Magali Vassiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, says: "The successful IOT and handover of Hispasat 36W-1 was a significant milestone for ESA. It represented several firsts: heritage for the first flight of the SmallGEO platform developed by OHB in ESA's ARTES programme and the culmination of ESA's first public-private partnership with HISPASAT, a Spanish operator. SmallGEO is an established element of our ARTES programme, and is designed to give European industry the edge in today's competitive and fast-paced satcom market. These first 12 months of operations showcase the excellence and reliability produced by the SmallGEO programme, so we are very happy to highlight this milestone and what it represents."

"The success of our SmallGEO debut H36W-1 represents an important milestone in the history of OHB, as the design of the satellite platform we developed was once again confirmed by this anniversary. This is very encouraging, as OHB is working on a whole range of satellites based on this modular platform," explains Marco Fuchs, CEO of OHB System AG. "I would also like to take the opportunity of this anniversary to thank once again all employees who have designed and developed the satellite or contributed to its realization.”

Pioneering opens new frontiers in know-how

Dr. Dieter Birreck was responsible at OHB as Project Manager for the implementation of H36W-1: "At times, and completely in match with OHB DNA, we felt like pioneers of space travel, because we had to design and develop some of the important technologies for this prototype ourselves.” Dr. Birreck is now responsible for the national civil-military telecommunications satellite Heinrich Hertz, which is also based on the SmallGEO platform. "We can build on the proven SmallGEO satellite design. In addition, thanks to H36W-1, the various teams have also gained a wealth of experience which we are now happy to fall back on - ideally as first-hand know-how!”

Satellite H36W-1 during test campaign that was conducted in Germany
Satellite H36W-1 during test campaign that was conducted in Germany © OHB System AG

OHB supports satellite operation

Since June 2017, the SmallGEO satellite H36W-1 has been operating continuously and error-free. Of course, engineers at OHB also monitor satellite behaviour at its distant service location 36,000 km above the Earth's surface and its performance. After all, the OHB System AG employees have not only designed and manufactured the satellite, they have also been supporting it since its commissioning and testing phase in space.

"Until the handover to our customer HISPASAT a year ago, we managed the satellite in shifts from the German Space Operations Center GSOC (at DLR's Oberpfaffenhofen site). During commissioning by HISPASAT, an OHB team was on site in Arganda, Spain, to support the customer," recalls Dieter Birreck, adding: "An OHB employee spent the past 12 months there primarily to support the HISPASAT team in controlling the satellite’ electric propulsion system. During this time, engineers were also on call around the clock in Bremen to provide support in case of emergency. The fact that there never was any emergency is testimony to the excellent design and it’s implementation."

HISPASAT now operates the satellite with its own team. OHB specialists will continue to be involved until the end of the mission, as Dieter Birreck explains: "We can support our customers from Bremen, if necessary. In addition, our team continues to analyze the satellite's performance for HISPASAT. I wish HISPASAT a smooth and long-lasting operation of the first SmallGEO satellite H36W-1!"

The antenna range test was also part of the test campaign in 2016
The antenna range test was also part of the test campaign in 2016 © OHB System AG

Success thanks to teamwork - also within the OHB Group

OHB System AG acted as the main industrial contractor for the implementation of H36W-1, drawing on the expertise of three sister companies: OHB Sweden supplied innovative subsystems for electric satellite propulsion and the position and orbit control system; LUXSPACE provided telemetry and tele-command sub-systems and contributed to their validation at satellite level and also contributed to the development of the satellite simulator; OHB Italia supplied the payload control unit and was involved in the development of the thermal control sub-system. Correspondingly, satisfaction and pride in what has been achieved are now equally high in Sweden, Luxembourg and Italy.


With SmallGEO, OHB has developed a versatile geostationary satellite platform in the ESA ARTES Programme, which can be tailored to suit various mission objectives, such as telecommunications, Earth observation and technology verification. The modular design makes it possible to react flexibly to customer requirements. Customers can choose between a classic, hybrid and electric propulsion system for the satellite. The launch mass ranges between 2,500 and 3,500 kg, depending on the type of satellite, with the permitted payload mass varying between 450 kg and 900 kg. The 3.7 x 1.9 x 2 meter H36W-1 had a launch mass of 3,200 kg.

H36W-1 is the first satellite based on OHB's SmallGEO platform. It was implemented as part of a PPP (private-public partnership) between ESA, OHB and HISPASAT. With H36W-1, Germany's return to system capability in the commercial telecommunications satellite market is based on a close cooperation between OHB, the Space Administration of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) for the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi), and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The 3.7 x 1.9 x 2 meter H36W-1 had a launch mass of 3,200 kg. It was launched at the end of January 2017 and has been performing continuously since June 2017
The 3.7 x 1.9 x 2 meter H36W-1 had a launch mass of 3,200 kg. It was launched at the end of January 2017 and has been performing continuously since June 2017 © OHB System AG

Further information on the SmallGEO platform and the satellite H36W-1 are for example provided by this video by ESA and at HISPASAT’s website: 

OHB brochures (PDF) on the SmallGEO family (“SmallGEO – The multi-purpose geostationary satellite platform”) and on the company’s platform portfolio (“Satellite Platforms – medium and large platforms”) are available here:


Martina Lilienthal
Head of Corporate Communications
and Investor Relations
Phone: +49 421 2020 7200

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