Products for People for a Better World!

Interview with Thomas Reinartz, CEO of TESAT

Thomas Reinartz, CEO of TESAT
Thomas Reinartz, CEO of TESAT

Satellites have become indispensable in our modern lives. They transmit radio and television programs, enable precise location determinations, and support research. Depending on the application, components are needed so that the satellites can also perform their various tasks. Tesat-Spacecom GmbH & Co. KG based in Backnang near Stuttgart, develops, manufactures, and tests communication technology payloads and devices for various international satellite manufacturers.

"We stand for products that enable multi-orbit connectivity regardless of the satellite manufacturer," emphasizes Thomas Reinartz, CEO of Tesat-Spacecom GmbH & Co. KG. "These are so-called complete payloads up to a size of 3 x 3 x 3 m. Our product roadmaps always head towards the latest technologies - from earlier one to ten and from ten to now 100 gigabits. Our products are also appreciated because they can work for up to 15 years in orbit under extreme conditions. The three biggest challenges are shock, temperature and radiation. 60 to 100 of our people are solely concerned with these component qualifications. We have been in this business for 50 years and we can produce the equipment in high volumes. Moreover, our products meet the requirements for use in low, medium, and high Earth orbits up to 40,000 km. Currently, we manufacture 2,500 pieces of equipment per year. So, we are a real production company."

TESAT headquarters in Backnang, Baden-Württemberg
Location since 1949: Headquarters in Backnang, Baden-Württemberg
TESAT Final Inspection
Quality above all: Final check in the clean room

Rapid Development

A practical application of TESAT's components is television broadcasting. For example, signals of the program are transmitted from the ZDF broadcasting center in Mainz to the corresponding satellite and from there are broadcast back to the receiving households on a wide scale.

"All the equipment in between comes from us," explains Thomas Reinartz. "These smart components, which I like to refer to as 'the heart of every satellite,' come from us. And they have to last 15 years – in the high orbit and with the massive radiation."

Thomas Reinartz, CEO of TESAT

Thomas Reinartz


"Our products are especially valued because they function for up to 15 years in orbit under extreme conditions."

Thomas Reinartz

For about 15 years, the experts at TESAT have also been working on laser technology for space. They have now become the core of current constellations like OneWeb and IRIS2 because they can establish connections that are almost completely secure against eavesdropping. Previously, the development of such a laser communication terminal (LCT), which at the time weighed 80 kg and cost 20 million EUR, took eight years plus two years of construction time.

"Today, we are given just 15 months to develop a new version, which must not cost more than 400,000 EUR and weighs ten kilograms," the CEO describes the rapid development of the industry. "We have a unique selling proposition because we have over 15 years of experience and have continuously optimized our products."

TESAT Laser Communication Terminal - SCOT80
Precision is required: Laser Communication Terminal - SCOT80
Increases the efficiency of broadband transmission: HDI TR Module
TESAT Integrated Downlink Transmitter
Robust and durable: Integrated Downlink Transmitter

Space Location Backnang

The history of today's TESAT goes back to the year 1949. At that time, the telecommunications division of AEG was moved from Berlin to Backnang, as was the microwave communications department from Ulm to Backnang six years later. In 1967, the founding of AEG Telefunken AG with the space division followed. Later, Bosch took over the company and since the year 2000, the space division has been operating under the name Bosch SatCom.

In 2001, the Airbus Group acquired the company and renamed it TESAT, where today 70 to 80% of the sales of around 300 million EUR are generated outside of Airbus. Presently, the company employs a total of 1,100 employees, including 20 in the U.S. branch. "Of the 60,000 m² of built area in Backnang, around 20,000 m² are clean room space," explains Thomas Reinartz. "This makes us the largest contiguous space location in Germany."

CO2 Neutrality as a Goal

About 60% of TESAT's sales are made in the USA. Other markets include Asia with Japan, Korea, and India, as well as Europe. The sales approach is based on a classic key-account manager structure, and additionally, due to complexity, all areas of the company from purchasing, development to production are involved in the proposal process.

TESAT Microscope Work
Important down to the smallest detail: Working with the microscope
TESAT Herringbone Output Multiplexer
In demand worldwide: Herringbone Output Multiplexer

Furthermore, TESAT is present at trade fairs like the ‘Satellite’ in Washington. "We can also be found on social media, are networked in the politics of Baden-Württemberg, and sponsor important industry congresses," mentions the CEO as further elements of external presentation. "However, we also use social media to recruit new employees, among other things with the slogan ‘We are shaping the key to the communication of the future. For people. For a better world.’"

TESAT pays attention to sustainability in both manufacturing processes and the products themselves. Thus, achieving CO2 neutrality in the long term is the goal. Today, the company has 60 years of experience and successful products on around 700 satellites.

"In the future, we would like to serve five to six different segments," explains Thomas Reinartz. "In the medium term, I am aiming for a turnover of half a billion EUR and would like to accompany the company through its transformation. We build products for people for a better world. And that’s a lot of fun with a committed team, because I really enjoy working with people."