Oct 29, 2009

Multi-mission COMS satellite is ’space qualified’

Estimated Article Reading Time: 2 min.

Astrium and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) have successfully completed the mechanical and thermal tests on the Communications, Oceanography and Meteorology Satellite COMS, South Korea’s first multi-mission geostationary satellite, and the first ever of its type to be built in Europe.

The development of a three-axis stabilised geostationary satellite represents a major technological achievement for Astrium, as they are considerably more efficient and can accommodate larger and more complex payloads.

The successful testing has enabled COMS to be deemed as ‘space qualified’ and will allow for preparations to begin for the launch of the satellite from the French Guiana Space Centre in Kourou next spring. The testing that was conducted also allowed for full-scale trials to be undertaken on the new test facilities in KARI’s Daejeon centre.

Jean Dauphin, Director of Earth Observation and Science for Astrium said: “Astrium has met the challenge of integrating three separate meteorology, oceanography and telecommunication payloads on to the same satellite. This confirms Astrium’s ability to design and build three-axis stabilised geostationary observation satellites that can be used for a variety of highly demanding applications. This represents a European first and Astrium employees can be proud of having achieved such a significant success.”

The first European high-resolution geostationary observation satellite carries three payloads dedicated to meteorology applications, ocean observation and telecommunications. COMS carries a high-resolution meteorology imager, an ‘ocean colour’ payload and a Ka-band telecommunications payload:

Meteorology: One of the COMS missions will be the continuous observation from its orbital position of worldwide meteorological phenomena, along with specific weather events such as typhoons, monsoons and sandstorms.

Oceanography: COMS will also carry a multi-band imager dedicated for ocean observation. This instrument is built by Astrium and will be used in particular by the fishing industry to monitor changes in the marine ecosystem. This innovative imager can offer 350 m resolution at equator, a level of performance unprecedented in geostationary orbit.

Telecommunications: The third payload is an experimental Ka-band telecommunications module, developed by the South Korean Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), in order to validate wide-band multi-media telecommunications services.

Astrium has also successfully delivered the operational version of the Image Registration and Navigation ground software. This software will provide South Korea with the next generation of image positioning, which is essential for meteorological models.

With a take-off weight of 2.5 metric tons and an end-of-life on-board power level of 2.5 kW, the satellite will remain in service in a geostationary orbit for at least eight years. COMS is based on the avionics of the Eurostar E3000 telecommunications satellites, with adaptations for optical observation from a geostationary orbit.

This achievement confirms Astrium as a key global player in the field of geostationary orbit observation satellites. This is demonstrated in terms of understanding the vital performance requirements for this type of mission, designing the corresponding on-board and ground systems and then building the satellite and optical payloads in response to these specific needs.