With Electra, OHB develops an advanced electrically powered telecommunications satellite in the sub-three-ton weight class. Such a system has previously not been available commercially in Europe. To date, electric propulsion systems have only been used in research satellites or for orbit maintenance for telecommunications satellites. Artemis, a communications satellite operated by ESA, successfully tested the concept of using solely electric propulsion to achieve a geostationary orbit for the first time. The results showed that electric propulsion systems reduce propellant mass requirements by up to 90 percent compared with chemical propulsion systems. Consequently, it is possible to reduce the launch mass of the satellite by almost half.

Electra is now to be used to systematically broaden the scope for implementing this technology in a specially designed satellite system. With this contract, OHB is tapping a substantially larger area of business in commercial telecommunications and adding an innovative new propulsion system design to its SmallGEO range.

OHB Sweden contributions

OHB Sweden is a Core Team Partner in the Small GEO Telecom satellite programme and we are responsible for the attitude and orbit control and electrical propulsion subsystems.


Electra is a public-private partnership under the ESA ARTES 33 program serving the purpose of providing the satellite communications industry with innovative products and systems. The project initially entails the platform development which in a further step is to lead to a joint mission with industrial project partner SES. As one of the world’s largest satellite operators, this company has a keen interest in encouraging competition in the selection of launch vehicles in order to achieve additional savings.

Status and Launch date

Electra Phase B1 contract has been signed in October 2013 between ESA and SES as well as SES and OHB as prime contractor for the platform development for a 12 month duration up to platform preliminary design review (PDR) in the end of 2014. The goal is to establish a development and qualification Phase B2/C/D/E contract targeting a launch in 2018.