A public–private partnership (PPP) contract signed with Astrium means that the European Space Agency (ESA) is moving ahead with an independent, European satellite system that will speed up the transmission of large quantities of data beginning in 2014. The PPP for the European Data Relay System (EDRS) demonstrates ESA's capability to pull together resources and knowhow from several partners under an efficient and operational scheme.
The PPP approach allows industry to take on a greater risk in order for Europe to reap the benefits of advanced satellite technology. Under the terms of the agreement, the partners will jointly finance the EDRS with ESA's contract with Astrium amounting to €275 M.
Astrium has the overall responsibility for designing and developing the complete space and ground infrastructure. The company will then acquire ownership of EDRS and is committed to its operation for the next 15 years. Initial users for EDRS will be the Sentinel 1 and Sentinel 2 satellites of the GMES Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, the EU's ambitious Earth observation programme, headed by the European Commission in partnership with ESA and the European Environment Agency.
The EDRS system will consist of two payloads carried by satellites in geostationary orbit. User data will be transmitted via dedicated terminals from satellites in lower orbits to either of the EDRS nodes and then relayed to the ground. The first of the two EDRS nodes will be launched in late 2014. The second will be launched in late 2015 on a dedicated satellite built by OHB (DE) that will use the Small GEO platform.
"The EDRS programme is another prime example of a public–private partnership," said Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications. "EDRS is a big step forward in how low-orbit satellites and future unmanned aerial vehicles can be used, to the benefit of Europe's citizens and economy."