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    20 Apr 2014 
ARTES Elements
Tenders and Workplans

ARTES 7 EDRS Overview

ARTES 7 (EDRS) is a specific element dedicated to the development and implementation of the European Data Relay System (EDRS) .

Data relay satellites are satellites placed in geostationary orbit to relay information to/from non-geostationary satellites, spacecraft, other vehicles and fixed Earth stations, which otherwise are not able to permanently transmit/receive data.

EDRS is an independent, European satellite system that reduces time delays in the transmission of large data quantities. To add to Europe’s independence, the European Data Relay System will fill the gap of an independent European telecom network that is fast, reliable and seamless. It will make on-demand data available at the right place at the right time.

Why is it needed now?
Despite the present telecommunication capabilities, there are still a number of limitations that delay the delivery of time-critical data to users. With the implementation of the joint European Commission/ESA Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, it is estimated that European space telecommunication infrastructure will need to transmit 6 terabytes of data every day from space to ground.

Our present telecom infrastructure is challenged to deliver such large data quantities within short delays, and conventional means of communication may not be sufficient to satisfy the quality of service required by users of Earth observation data. In addition, Europe currently relies on the availability of non-European ground station antennas to receive data from Earth observation satellites. This poses a potential threat to the strategic independence of Europe, as these crucial space assets effectively may not be under European control. EDRS offers a solution to these challenges.

How will it be done?
The EDRS infrastructure will consist of two geostationary payloads, a ground system consisting of a satellite control centre (SCC), a mission operations centre (MOC), a feeder link ground station (FLGS) and data ground stations (UGS).

User data will be transmitted from LEO user satellites to either of the EDRS payloads and relayed to the FLGS and/or the DGS on the ground, from where it will be made available to the users’ sites.

The first EDRS payload, comprising of an optical inter statellite link (OISL) as well as a Ka-band inter satellite link will be embarked on a host satellite operated by Eutelsat.(FR) known as Eurobird 9B. Launch date is expected in 2014.

Hosted Payload approach for second EDRS payload

The second EDRS payload, also comprising of an OISL will be flown on-board an evolution of the SmallGEO platform. SmallGEO is under development through a public private partnership (PPP) scheme between OHB (DE) and ESA. ESA activities regarding SmallGEO fall under element 11 of the ARTES programme.

OHB will launch the satellite which will also include a commercial payload called Hylas-3, provided by Avanti Communications of the UK.

Through this arrangement, the cost of satellite resources and the launch are now shared. This contributes to the funding of the EDRS programme while providing access to space at a lower cost for the hosted payload.

Avanti and ESA previously worked together to launch the Hylas-1 satellite in 2010. Hylas-3 includes a steerable multibeam antenna to provide communications for institutional and international customers and is completely independent of EDRS.

Launch date of the second EDRS payload is expected in 2016.

Who will implement it?
In order to achieve a cost efficient EDRS programme and minimise ESA investment and operation costs, EDRS is being implemented as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) through element 7 of ESA’s ARTES programme.

Astrium GmbH, BU Services has been selected as prime contractor through a competitive tender issued in 2010 and will carry the overall responsibility for the implementation of the space segment including launch, as well as the ground segment.

Astrium will commit to operate the EDRS for 15 years and provide services to ESA, in particular to the European Commission’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, or GMES programme. Sentinels 1 and 2 will be the anchor customers.

What are the benefits?

EDRS will provide:

  • Real time access to data such as Earth Observation.
  • High data rates;
  • Encrypted data down link;
  • Fast forward commanding capability 

There are a number of key services that will benefit from this system's infrastructure right from the start:

  • Earth Observation applications in support of a multitude of time-critical services, e.g. monitoring of land-surface motion risks, forest fires, floods and sea ice zones.
  • Government and security services that need images from key European space systems such as Global Monitoring for Environment and Security.
  • Rescue teams that need Earth observation data within disaster-struck areas.
  • Security forces that transmit data to Earth observation satellites, aircraft and unmanned aerial observation vehicles, to reconfigure such systems in real time.
  • Relief forces that operate among their units in the field and require telecommunication support in cut-off areas.


Last Update: 26 Aug 2013
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