June 25, 2012 –Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany (Techreleased) – Astrium, Europe’s leading space company, continues to drive the implementation of the European Data Relay System (EDRS). As prime contractor, Astrium Services has now contracted the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) to implement and operate major parts of the ground network. The agreement signed in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, today covers the design, implementation, delivery and operation of four ground stations: two receiving stations for the EDRS-A satellite in Weilheim, Germany and one in 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 € 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 is building 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, crises 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 committed to the public-private partnership in EDRS with a view to opening new markets. Today’s contract marks a major milestone in implementing this important space program which will benefit all the citizens in Europe.”
EDRS operation will commence with the launch of the first EDRS payload on-board th EUTELSAT9B commercial telecommunication satellite that will also be manufactured by Astrium at the end of 2014 followed by a second dedicated spacecraft in 2015.
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 Earth observation (EO) satellite operator and EO service provider as well as its heritage in innovative financing schemes.