SMP Switch Module - Development of the Switch Module for Small Modular Digital Processor

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SMP is aimed at developing the next generation of equipments for broadband satellite telecommunications in a cost effective manner. The functions required for a wide range of processing missions, in Earth observation and science as well as telecoms, can be implemented using a generic set of modules, allowing the cost of development to be spread over multiple programmes. 

The objective of this project was to develop and qualify the Switch element. This included full environmental testing.  Development and qualification of the Switch module has been completed successfully.


Building a high capacity digital processor offers important challenges. Airbus Defence and Space is well placed, building on lessons learned from previous ESA programmes. 

High capacity introduces local hot spots, so very careful thermal management of the design is maintained. 

One of the key drivers is a cost effective product so Design for Manufacture and Design for Test are vital to keep recurring costs to a minimum.


Digital processors offer unparalleled flexibility to customers. In the commercial market, this has been evident for MSS customers for several years. It has not, however, been seen as cost effective for the larger FSS, BSS or broadband markets. 

SMP provides a flexible, cost effective solution which can offer real benefits to this wider market. It allows customers to make a genuine trade-off between a simpler analogue based solution, compared to a much more capable digital option. This has opened up new opportunities to better utilise the satellite bandwidth and power, offering the potential for an increase in useable capacity and efficiency.


SMP offers a scalable product suitable for a range of mission types. The primary drivers are to offer a cost effective solution that requires minimal schedule, risk and non-recurring expense when porting between different customers. Airbus Defence and Space has taken full advantage of feedback from previous programmes, including Inmarsat and NGP/Alphasat to create a product which is simple to build, modify and test, and is fully scalable to meet both small and large mission opportunities.

System Architecture

The Switch module developed in the frame of this project is designed to be used alongside Receive and Transmit modules being developed under a separate Artes 3-4 contract to create a fully flexible and scalable solution to meet a wide range of mission types.


Qualification completed 2017.

Current status


Prime Contractor