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Liebherr Tapped for Critical Role in ‘Game-Changer’ Satellite

Heat Exchangers Will Keep Space Inspire Cool

An innovative new satellite, dubbed a “game-changer” by its manufacturer, will rely on heat exchangers built by Liebherr-Aerospace for cooling.

Space Inspire – an acronym tortuously-derived from INstant SPace In-orbit Reconfiguration – is a software-defined satellite designed to allow instant adjustments to be made while in orbit. Aimed at telecommunications customers, the platform has a serial production line and, in a promotional video published via the YouTube service, manufacturer Thales Alenia Space – a joint venture between Thales and Leonardo – promises delivery within 18 months.

The vehicles have a projected in-service life of over 15 years and their thermal control concept is innovative, using several different types of heat exchangers. Thermal control on board a satellite is vital to ensure the payload remains within a specific temperature range at all times, and the exchangers control the distribution of power to radiators. Liebherr-Aerospace has developed the new exchangers in collaboration with Thales Alenia Space and with support from the French government’s Plan d’Investissements d’Avenir (PIA), led by the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES). The company has also invested unspecified R&D resources in the product.

No value for the contract or production run for the exchangers has been made public. The fully digital Space Inspire vehicle was launched as a product in 2019, and is intended to offer telecoms providers the flexibility to allocate capacity in response to changing demand during the spacecraft’s lifetime. In November 2020, the product successfully completed its preliminary design review. Earlier this month, the company announced that it would be supplying one Space Inspire satellite to Luxembourg-based telecoms provider SES.


The Space Inspire vehicles can be adjusted while in orbit. (Image: Thales Alenia Space)

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