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  • Satellite Evolution Group

Airbus delivers CLIP dispenser to launch CERES mission

After a successful delivery review meeting (DRB-Delivery Review Board) with the Italian customer AVIO, Airbus Defence and Space is finalising preparations for shipment of the dispenser for the French reconnaissance satellite mission CERES to the Kourou launch base. This structure maintains the three CERES satellites in the VEGA launcher and releases them once they have reached the desired orbital position. The launch is scheduled for mid-October this year from the European spaceport in French Guiana.

CLIP dispenser with satellite mock-ups – Copyright Airbus

Dispensers are structures that facilitate the launch of two or more satellites into orbit in a single launch.


Weighing just 200kg, the specially adapted CLIP dispenser, will carry the three 500kg satellites. The carbon fibre composite structure is based on a truncated cone with a height of 1.46m and a three-winged upper platform with gussets to install the satellites. Its lightweight design optimises the use of the available volume inside the launcher fairing. Each satellite is anchored with four hold-down and release systems that are actuated at precisely the right moment to inject the satellites into orbit.


The Airbus site in Madrid-Barajas is specialised in the manufacture of these types of structures with substantial experience in separation systems and carbon fibre technology. Separation systems are critical elements that cannot incorporate redundancy; they are single point failure elements and must work once activated. The success of the mission depends on their correct operation. To date, around 150 payload separation systems have been supplied by Airbus in Spain with a 100 percent success rate.


CERES is the first fully-fledged Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) space system in Europe. The CERES contract was awarded by DGA (Direction Générale de l'Armement), together with CNES (French National Centre for Space Studies), to Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor. CERES will provide the French armed forces with a high performance end-to-end operational system, including a User Ground Segment, a Ground Control Segment and three identical, simultaneously-launched satellites. CERES builds on the achievements of the early technological programmes ESSAIM and ELISA, also primed by Airbus.

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