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Ekspress-2000 satellite platform

With the proliferation of satellite communications in Russia at the turn of the 21st century, the nation's key developer of communications satellites -- ISS Reshetnev -- proposed a standard bus, which could serve as a platform for the company's largest communications satellites. The platform was dubbed Ekspress-2000, while its beefed up version was to be designated Ekspress-4000.


Architecture of an Ekspress-2000-based satellite in deployed configuration. Copyright © 2010 Anatoly Zak

Known specifications of the Ekspress-2000 platform:

Power supply available for payload
14 kilowatts
Power supply available for payload at the end of operational lifetime
12.1 kilowatts
Type of attitude control system
Orbital positioning accuracy for longitude and latitude
0.05 degrees
Guaranteed service life
15 years
Operational life time
17 years
Solar array span
More than 33 meters
Solar array area
88 square meters

At home and abroad

Following the development of the Ekspress-1000N spacecraft bus, ISS Reshetnev used the experience to build a considerably larger standard platform for more-powerful satellites. The Ekspress-2000 bus was intended for the domestic market, while with Ekspress-4000, ISS Reshetnev hoped to compete on the international market. In 2008, ISS Reshetnev reached an agreement with the European consortium Thales Alenia Space for the cooperation on the development of the platform. This pact gave the Russian company an access to the state-of-the-art technology of the European Spacebus-4000 platform developed by Thales Alenia Space. However, unlike Spacebus-4000, Ekspress-2000 and 4000 series would not be equipped with built-in orbit correction engines, relying instead on their launch vehicles to deliver them to their final orbits.

The key feature of the Ekspress-2000/4000 design was a more capable power-supply system, which could provide more electricity to energy-hungry communications transponders onboard the spacecraft than that available onboard Ekspress-1000N. ISS Reshetnev also said that the probability of flawless operation of the Ekspress-2000-based satellite at the end of its 15-year operational life span would reach 0.9. Finally, the onboard fuel reserves were enough to move the Ekspress-2000-based satellites from one spot to another in the geostationary orbit at a speed of up to two degrees per day along the Equator.

Design-wise, Ekspress-2000/4000 resembled their predecessor Ekspress-1000N but the former carried larger solar panels. The central tube-like structure served as a backbone of the satellite surrounded by honeycomb panels carrying radiators, deployable solar panels and antennas. Various communications payloads would be attached to the top of the spacecraft.

Originally, ISS Reshetnev planned to use the Ekspress-2000 platform as a basis for the Luch-4 data-relay satellite. Eventually, the same bus was also adopted for the Ekspress-AM5 and Ekspress-AM6 satellites, both built for the Russian Satellite Communications Company, RSCC. ISS Reshetnev won the contract for Ekspress-AM5 and AM6 in a competitive tender. Ekspress-2000 also became a basis for the Yamal-401 satellite built for Gazprom Space Systems.

The company was less successful with its bid to "sell" the Ekspress-4000 platform as a basis for the Ekspress-AM4 satellite. In that tender, RSCC favored a proposal from the European consortium EADS Astrium (currently Airbus).


Pre-launch processing of the Ekspress-AM6 satellite based on Ekspress-2000 platform.


Page author: Anatoly Zak; Last update: June 5, 2023

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Ekspress-2000 platform is built around a light-weight cylindrical "backbone." Credit: ISS Reshetnev


Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


Pre-launch processing of the Ekspress-AM6 satellite based on Ekspress-2000 platform. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos



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