Dec 04, 2009

ESA relay satellite system to spark European and Canadian leadership

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More than a hundred senior managers and experts from European space industry, national agencies and ESA packed a Geneva conference room earlier this week to learn about the commercial opportunities offered by ESA’s planned data relay satellite system.

The strong attendance from Europe and Canada’s space community highlights the growing expectations by industry and potential customers for the planned European Data Relay Satellite (EDRS) system. Once in operation, EDRS will provide exceptionally high-speed data relay capabilities to other satellites, vastly improving services such as Earth imaging, disaster response and environmental monitoring.

“Europe is the only space power that lacks a data relay capability. The requirements for navigation, environmental monitoring and security need this ability, and there is solid interest in building this system,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General, who spoke to the gathering via video.

The EDRS system will be developed as a so-called ‘public-private partnership’ (PPP), an innovative structure in which ESA leads the creation of the initial system and infrastructure that is later taken over for full exploitation and further development by a commercial partner. Hence the intense interest from space industry at this week’s EDRS Workshop, organised by ESA’s Telecoms directorate and co-sponsored by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and the Swiss Space office.

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