SES paves data highway to space

Jörn Krieger ©RapidTVNews | 25-06-2012

Satellite operator SES is to furnish key parts of the ground segment for the European Data Relay System (EDRS).

The contracts have now been signed with manufacturer Astrium and German space research institute DLR, the operator’s subsidiary SES TechCom announced at the German Space Operations Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich.

Within the scope of EDRS, SES TechCom will supply four satellite control stations and data reception facilities to be built on the premises of the earth stations in Weilheim (DLR), Redu (Belgium) and Harwell (UK). SES TechCom will also ensure the operability of the satellite control station in Redu on behalf of DLR.

All installations provided by SES TechCom will work in the Ka frequency band which allows the transfer, storage and terrestrial relay of high quantities of data in the gigabit range.

EDRS will utilise two geostationary ‘relay’ satellites that, due to their fixed position in space, will record the high-rate communications data of lower-flying earth observation satellites and transmit this data without significant time delays to Earth, according to SES TechCom.

Therefore, the observation satellites will no longer be tied to the short contact times during their flight over the respective earth stations, as has been the case up to now. Significantly greater quantities of data can be transferred from space to Earth more quickly and over a longer period of time.

As part of the EDRS set-up, optical laser technology for data transfer is planned to be put into operation for the first time. Small laser communication terminals will be employed that can transfer up to 1.8 gigabit of data over a distance of 45,000 kilometres, the equivalent of about 100,000 printed A4 pages per second.

The information highway in space is being established as a public-private partnership between the European Space Agency and Astrium as the main contractor, operator and service provider.