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Member states give increased support to Telecommunications activities

01 Dec 2008

A successful conference of ministers in charge of space activities within the 18 ESA Members
States and Canada has secured an on-going commitment to the ESA Telecommunications and
Integrated Applications Directorate activities. Continuation of ongoing optional programmes and the start of new programmes were part of the two-day conference which resulted in resounding approval and continued support for telecommunications activities.

Subscriptions have been given by the member states for the Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme, focusing on technologies, applications and mission demonstrations. The programme includes the development and implementation of an European Data Relay System (EDRS), an air traffic management satellite system (Iris) and the Integrated Application Promotion programme.

Ministers met for two days in The Hague, The Netherlands, to implement the European Space Policy; setting the start of future programmes and making decisions on the next phases of on-going programmes. Significant growth in support of telecommunication activities has been shown by all participating member states, said Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain at the final press conference earlier this week.

“A growth of telecommunication activities is a good signal that we received from member states because it means they take the competitiveness of the telecommunications industry as a very important aspect of ESA activities,” he stated.

The primary objective across the range of ESA Telecommunications Programmes is to support the technological preparedness of European industry by means of research and development projects. The Telecommunications programme also addresses projects leading to the qualification and demonstration of operational systems in partnership with users, satellite operators and service providers. This is done through the ARTES programme. The extension of the running ARTES Programme endorsed at the Ministerial Council will allow the continuation of the support to the European space industry through research and  development of innovative satellite communications technology, systems and applications to enable industry to meet customer needs, including those of the public sector. 

The ministerial Council has approved two new ARTES elements:

The European Data Relay Satellite (EDRS) programme (ARTES 7) aims at initiating, in partnership with a service provider/operator, operational capabilities in geostationary orbit to provide data relay and related services to efficiently support ESA and, possibly, third party missions. The EDRS will replace ESA’s Artemis data relay satellite which has successfully  operated since 2003, and will reach end-of-life during the first half of the next decade. The programme will be implemented in a stepped approach, with the first step being primarily focused on services to GMES and on the possibility of serving additional commercial, institutional and security needs.

The Integrated Applications Promotion (IAP) Programme (ARTES element 20, Phase 1) will foster the use of integrated space systems and technologies (telecommunications, Earth observation, meteorology, etc.) alone or in combination with a variety of terrestrial systems, in a wide range of operational services for society and public policies (natural disaster monitoring and
mitigation, search and rescue). The programme is based on two elements: Basic activities, to raise the level of awareness of the potential users, identify potential new services and prepare new projects for demonstration; and demonstration activities, projects that will lead to pre-operational services. Service providers, industry and user institutions will be involved from the outset with a view to their taking over the service when the activity is mature enough to lead to sustainable operational services.

Further, the Ministerial Council has also given a substantial increment to the subscription to ARTES 10. Iris Phase 2.1 (ARTES 10) will achieve the development of a modern communication system enabling safety-of-life Air Traffic Management (ATM) communications via satellite. This programme is configured as the ESA technical contribution to the overall development of a new European ATM system, the European Commission’s SESAR programme. Building upon Iris Phase 1 (2007-08), the programme will include the development of the new satellite communication standard, the user terminals, the ground segment, the space segment, end-to-end satellite system integration, its testing in pre-operational conditions and system validation. The interface with the overall European ATM system will be defined, including safety analysis involving the future operating entity. The pre-operational capability of the service is being targeted for 2015.

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