France: Astrium, Europe’s leading space company, continues to drive the implementation of the European Data Relay System (EDRS). As prime contractor, Astrium Services has contracted the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) to implement and operate major parts of the ground network. The agreement signed in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, covers the design, implementation, delivery and operation of four ground stations: two receiving stations for the EDRS-A satellite in Weilheim, Germany and Harwell, United Kingdom, as well as a transmitting and receiving station for EDRS-C in Weilheim, Germany, and a back-up station in Redu, Belgium.
As part of the agreement DLR will also implement and operate the payload control centre for EDRS-A and the satellite control centre for EDRS-C in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. The contract covers the entire nominal lifetime of the EDRS-A and EDRS-C missions until 2030 and has a value of around EUR 65 Million.
EDRS is a system of two geostationary satellites facilitating the data relay between Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites or UAVs and an associated ground segment. EDRS will enable satellites to immediately transfer data in broadband quality to the ground and will also provide the capability to re-programme satellites in almost real-time. This will ensure the timely acquisition and delivery of data following natural disasters and will support security applications, environmental protection and weather forecasting. 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.
This new space data highway is implemented through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Astrium Services as programme prime, operator and service provider. The Sentinel satellites of the European GMES program are the anchor customers for the new service with further data relay capacity available to third party customers worldwide.
“With EDRS Europe builds the new data highway in space with Astrium as the major industrial partner”, said Evert Dudok, CEO of Astrium Satellites. “EDRS will enable Europe to improve the management of natural disasters, crisis and security – to mention just a few examples – in an efficient and very sustainable way. Thanks to the investment of the German Federal Ministry of Economy the new EDRS laser communication technology is available in Germany. Thanks to our partner DLR, who we entrust today with the EDRS ground systems and satellite control, Astrium will be able to implement and operate this new data relay system. Thanks to ESA, Astrium is public-partnership-partner in EDRS with a view to open new markets. Today’s contract marks a major milestone in implementing this important space program for the benefit of the citizens in Europe.”
EDRS operation will commence with the launch of the first EDRS payload on-board the EUTELSAT9B commercial telecommunication satellite that will also be manufactured by Astrium at the end of 2014 followed by a second dedicated spacecraft in 2015.