Boeing is modifying its 702 communications satellite bus to a modular design that will allow commercial and military operators to change capacity and coverage after the spacecraft has been launched. The new 702B will be lighter than the current bus, and may carry a lower pricetag.

Using phased-array antennas and onboard digital signal processing, the "flexible payload" 702B will have the ability to change coverage patterns, bandwidth usage and signal routing in orbit. Providing from 7kW to 20kW of power, the satellite is being offered for commercial and military programmes requiring payloads that are reconfigurable in orbit.

"With current bent-pipe systems, a satellite's coverage area is set years before launch and can't be changed," says Dave Ryan, president, Boeing Satellite Systems. After launch, over a 15-year service life, "markets can emerge and customer bases change significantly", he says. "Adjusting capacity and coverage, and even changing a spacecraft to a totally different mission, is a capability that will transform the satellite industry."

Boeing, meanwhile, says reports it is ready to resume offering commercial launches of its Delta IV evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV) are overstated. The company says is "optimistic" it can again offer commercial launches, if the market returns, after the US Air Force has awarded additional government launch contracts under EELV Buy 3, expected next year.

Boeing withdrew from the com­mercial launch market in 2003, citing lack of demand and the high cost of the Delta IV after several EELV launches were transferred to Lockheed Martin and the company was barred from bidding. The suspension was lifted last month.


Source: Flight International