Satellite Technology

With its steady, primarily organic growth and technological leadership, OHB has made a name for itself in the space community and particularly also in the European satellite market.

The fact that Europe has discovered and entered the growth market for small geostationary satellites is materially due to an initiative launched by OHB. These crucial system skills had largely disappeared in Europe in the previous 15 years or so.

An important reference in this area is the SmallGEO project with the European Space Agency ESA as the customer and Hispasat of Spain as the user. Here, OHB has assumed lead management of a European-wide syndicate. The marketing of small reconnaissance and communications satellites in particular will grow in importance for OHB as an area of business expansion.

Project: Galileo

Company: OHB-System AG

Europe has decided to establish its own global navigation system Galileo*. The system will comprise a worldwide network of ground stations and a set of 24 navigation satellites plus spares.

[Translate to English:] Das europäische Navigationssystem Galileo als Grafik

The European Space Agency ESA has awarded OHB System AG with the production of the complete set of 34 Galileo FOC satellites (Full Operational Capability). ESA in this case acts on behalf of the European Commission.

OHB System AG as prime contractor and Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) have teamed for the production of the navigation satellites. OHB System AG is responsible for the concept, the satellite platforms and the satellite level integration and test. SSTL will supply the satellite payloads and will support OHB on system level with the experience from their first test satellite called Giove A. As well OHB System AG is supporting customers during launch preparation and in-Orbit testing.

In parallel, experts at OHB System AG are working on designs for the next generation of navigation satellites and further services it shall provide.


* The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo programme is managed and fully funded by the European Union. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission. The views expressed here can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union and/or ESA. “Galileo” is a trademark subject to OHIM application number 002742237 by EU and ESA.



ESA/EU (customer), SSTL


Project: SmallGEO

A small European geostationary platform (SmallGEO) for communications applications is being developed under OHB's lead management. Initiated by OHB, it has been established as a separate component of the long-term ESA schedule under the ARTES-11 program.

Der Telekommunikationssatellit H36W-1 während der Testkampagne bei der IABG
(© OHB System AG)

The purpose was to develop a modular geostationary satellite platform in the 3-ton class. Customers can select a classic, hybrid or electric propulsion system for the satellite.

What sets the SmallGEO platform apart is its modular structure. As a result, the satellite can be fitted individually in accordance with the customer's specific requirements without any major modifications to the satellite bus. The advantages are plain to see: Short integration times make it possible to react swiftly to new market needs and reduce costs. The relatively low complexity of the system ensures high reliability in tandem with reduced program risk.

SmallGEO has been developed as an optimum platform for communications payloads. With its modular design, however, SmallGEO also provides a cost-efficient basis for other applications such as earth observation or meteorology.

The first satellite utilizing the SmallGEO platform was placed in orbit in 2017. Further SmallGEO satellites are being developed and/or manufactured.

Links to related press releases:



Project: Meteosat Third Generation

Developing Better Weather Forecasts for Europe


To maintain and improve Europe’s weather forecasting activities, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) is currently procuring a new, third generation of Meteosat weather satellites (MTG). The procurement of these spacecraft is managed by the European Space Agency (ESA). The first of the six satellites was successfully launched into space in December 2022.

Four of these spacecraft are dubbed Imagers, which will provide imagery with a much higher resolution compared to what is available today. The two remaining satellites are the so-called Sounder satellites, which will use complex imaging spectrometers to provide information on the distribution and flow of vapor and temperature in the middle part of the atmosphere.

Once these spacecraft are operational, their novel capabilities will significantly improve the accuracy of weather now- and forecasting. As a result, MTG will enable earlier warning of large-scale thunderstorms and intensive rainfall, it will allow more accurate and economic planning of air travel and rescue operations and it will enable farmers to achieve higher yields. Additionally, basic knowledge about our blue planet will be  improved with the aid of this third generation of European weather satellites - and it is not only  Europe that will benefit from this.


The industrial prime contractor for the MTG program is Thales Alenia Space of France with OHB System AG as its partner. OHB System AG is responsible for development all six satellite platforms and leads the overall development of the two Sounder satellites.


Besides its responsibilities on system and platform level, OHB System AG is also working on developing the mission’s instruments. OHB System AG is leading the overall development of the Infrared Sounder instrument, a highly challenging imaging spectrometer that will be the main instrument of the two Sounder satellites. Also, OHB System AG is developing the telescope assembly for the Flexible Combined Imager, the main instrument on the six Imager satellites. Finally, OHB System AG is part of the industrial core team responsible for the development of the Sentinel 4 UVN instrument. Financed separately by the European Union’s GMES program, Sentinel 4 will also be carried by the two Sounder satellites and will analyze air quality.

Project: Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program (EnMAP)

Company: OHB System AG, Munich site

EnMAP is the German hyperspectral earth observation satellite with more than 200 measuring channels in the spectral range between 420 and 2,450 nm.

An innovative instrument system permits advanced optical specifications.With optimized swing angles in tandem with a 30 km charting width and a ground resolution of 30 m, the agile satellite system achieves global coverage and short observation repetition times.The data is evaluated by classifying the quasi-continuous spectrums to determine the ecosystem parameters and to achieve an improved modeling of bio/geosphere processes in a high-quality basis.In this connection, the scientific applications form the basis for preparing for future commercial use and operational services.




DLR Space Management (customer)
GFZ (Scientific management),
DLR-GSOC/-DFD (ground segment),
OHB System, Bremen site (satellite bus),
Extensive involvement by German industry
for subsystems


Project: SAR-Lupe

Company: OHB-System AG:

With the SAR-Lupe system, OHB delivered in 2007 the first satellite-based radar reconnaissance system for the German armed forces.

SAR Lupe Montage

Since then, it has been performing in space reliably and around the clock. SAR-Lupe enables the German Government to react early and independently in crisis situations and contributes constructively to the operational capability of the armed forces.

The concept of smaller, modular satellites has proved its worth and has been applied by OHB's experts in the same way to other areas such as telecommunications and navigation.

The extension of the SAR-Lupe operations to the commissioning of the successor system SARah prevents a capability gap. OHB System AG has been working on the development and implementation of the SAR-Lupe successor system, SARah, since mid-2013. This order includes two reflector satellites and ground system elements as well as two ground stations. Airbus Defence and Space is supplying a subcontracted phased array satellite. The customer is the Federal Ministry of Defence through BAAINBw (Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr).



SAR-Lupe: BMVg, BWB (customer)
and Thales Alenia Space Toulouse,
Carlo Gavazzi Space, COSMOS International,
DLR GSOC, EADS Defence &
, Rosoboronexport, RST, RTG,
Saab Space, Tesat Spacecom, Thales
Electronic Devices Ulm
as a subcontractor;
(customer), EADS Dornier subcontractor


Press release

Space Systems Core Segments

Human exploration

On top of the national satellite missions which have already commenced, DLR has launched a further initiative for lunar exploration. In this connection, OHB-System executed a phase 0 study for the Lunar Exploration Orbiter (LEO) mission on the basis of the Small Geo/Luxor platform in 2007.

Human Spaceflight

At the same time, it has gained a unique position not least of all thanks to its status as the only European company in the human space flight segment to be involved in all payloads and laboratories for the Columbus module of the International Space Station ISS.