Bremen/Kourou, 22. May 2023. The time to bid farewell is getting closer. On June 16, the communications satellite “Heinrich Hertz” will set out on its journey into space with the last Ariane-5 rocket providing the necessary boost for flight speed . Before the satellite could be ready to soar to lofty heights, however, there was still some work which had to be completed on the ground: The final checks as part of the launch campaign on the site of the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana were due. As industrial prime contractor, the space company OHB is also responsible for accompanying the launch campaign and carrying out the final tests on the satellite, which have now been successfully completed.
For the launch preparations, a proven OHB team is in action at the spaceport. Part of the permanent team is OHB Launch Campaign Manager Niklas Voigt, who has spent the past few weeks working through the final milestones of the launch campaign with his team: "All of the satellite’s health checks, which examine whether any problems have occurred after the long transport, were performed successfully. The propulsion system is also ready and pressurised for launch. We have already put the satellite into flight configuration. Now, all that is left for us to do is fill the tanks. It’s a wrap!"
Tester, service provider, experiments' assistant: What are the abilities of the Heinrich Hertz Mission?
After the satellite begins its service in space, it will remain in geostationary orbit at an altitude of around 36,000 kilometres for around 15 years. One goal of the Heinrich Hertz mission is to test new technologies for satellite communications for their suitability for space. Furthermore, the mission serves as a facility hosting experiments on communication, antenna, and satellite technology, which have been developed and built by various institutes and companies in Germany. The satellite also already has several jobs as a service provider: It will serve as a relay station - i.e., transmission assistant - for smaller earth-orbiting satellites. In other words, Heinrich Hertz will receive data from other satellites within its radio range and then forward it to the ground station.
The satellite is not only versatile, but also effectively built: Propulsion is with a hybrid type of propulsion, i.e., chemical and electric. This propulsion combination saves fuel mass – mass which can be made available to the payload. In addition to the scientific and technical mission component, the German Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg) is using additional payload capacity for its own communications purposes on the satellite as part of a cooperation with the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK).
"With the Heinrich Hertz mission, the system company OHB demonstrates its ability to realise complex and secure telecommunications systems. In the Heinrich Hertz mission, OHB has overall responsibility for the development and construction of the satellite as well as the procurement and coordination of the launch segment. In addition, we are responsible for the construction of the ground segment in the control centre in Bonn," says OHB project manager Alexander Schneider.
The Heinrich-Hertz-Mission and its Partners
The Heinrich Hertz mission is the first launch of a dedicated German communications satellite for researching and testing new technologies and communications scenarios. The mission thus contributes to the further development of the German Information Society. The Heinrich Hertz mission is led by the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Bonn on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) and with the participation of the Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg). OHB-System AG was commissioned with the development and construction of the satellite. The companies IABG GmbH, MDA AG and TESAT GmbH & Co. KG are also involved in the development and testing of the satellite. The ground segment is under the responsibility of OHB Digital connect in cooperation with the company CGI, in this thereby the satellite control centre was realized in Bonn. The locations for the new ground stations are in Hürth (North-Rhine Westphalia) und Neustrelitz (Mecklenburg-West Pommerania). Arianespace is responsible for mission launch on board the Ariane carrier rocket (VA261). Another 36 partners are involved in the mission - 14 of them on the scientific payload.