by Staff Writers
Paris, France (SPX) Oct 13, 2011
Astrium, Europe's leading space company, will partner with the European Space Agency (ESA) to design, deliver and operate the European Data Relay System (EDRS).
The EDRS will be implemented through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between ESA and Astrium. Under the terms of the agreement the partners will jointly finance the EDRS. ESA contract with Astrium amounts to 275 million euros.
The EDRS's two telecommunication payloads in geostationary orbit will enable broadband, bi-directional data relay between Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites and an associated ground segment via either of the EDRS payloads.
The EDRS increases the time LEO spacecraft can be in communication with the ground and enables immediate broadband data transfer to the user. It also provides the capability to re-programme LEO Earth observation (EO) satellites in almost real-time.
This ensures the timely acquisition and delivery of imagery following natural disasters, and helps emergency services on the ground to accurately map the affected areas and effectively coordinate response efforts.
Currently, LEO satellites can only be reprogrammed and images can only be received when the satellites pass over a specific geographic location with a dedicated ground station.
The new space data highway will provide Europe with independent, on demand access to EO data from LEO satellites in real-time. It solves the growing problem of "data traffic jams in space" and enables an improved reactivity as well as a more intense and efficient use of EO satellites.
"The EDRS will draw on Astrium's expertise not only in Public-Private Partnerships but also on our unique experience in providing both secure satellite communications and geo-information services," said Eric Beranger, CEO of Astrium Services.
"Along with the EU and ESA, the EDRS has the potential to be utilised by other national space agencies and states as well as commercial users."
EDRS operations will commence with the launch of the first EDRS mission at the end of 2014. The mission will be embarked on board a Eutelsat satellite: EUTELSAT 9B that will be manufactured by Astrium and located at 9E. Astrium will also contract OHB-System, Germany, to build a second EDRS satellite for launch in 2015.
The EDRS payloads of both satellites will be manufactured by TESAT, a 100% subsidiary of Astrium.
The Laser Communication Terminals that transmit data between the EDRS and LEO satellites at up to 1.8 gigabits per second are developed and built by TESAT. This high-end technology has been developed under a contract from the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
The European Union (EU) with its Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme and its Sentinel satellites is intended to be the anchor tenant for the service, with additional capacity on the system marketed by Astrium Services to third-party users.
Astrium Services has been selected after competition by ESA as EDRS Programme Prime due to the division's global expertise in secure satellite communications, its experience as an EO satellite operator and EO service provider as well as its heritage in innovative financing schemes
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