SES working on information highway in space
June 26, 2012 09.43 Europe/London

SES TechCom, a subsidiary of SES, has announced that it has signed contracts with Astrium and DLR at the German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen to furnish important parts of the ground segment for the innovative European Data Relay System (EDRS).

Within the scope of EDRS, SES TechCom will supply four state-of-the-art 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 so-called Ka frequency band, which allows for the transfer, storage and terrestrial relay of very 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. Therefore, the observation satellites are no longer 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. Within the scope of EDRS, 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 kilometers. That’s 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.

The EDRS contract was signed in Oberpfaffenhofen by Prof. Huber, Director of the DLR Space Operations and Astronaut Training facility, and Gerhard Bethscheider, Managing Director of SES TechCom S.A., in the presence of Luxembourg’s Communications Minister François Biltgen, DLR Chairman Johann-Dietrich Wörner and the Chairman of the Board of Astrium GmbH, Evert Dudok.

The occasion was the official inauguration of a high-precision satellite measuring station in Weilheim, based on a 13m Ka-band antenna, which was developed by Luxembourg industry, notably HITEC Luxembourg S.A., under the aegis of SES TechCom and in close cooperation with DLR.