International Report

Project MESA Takes Protective Measures

An aggressive work plan to revolutionize communications for organizations within the public protection and disaster relief sector has been adopted by Project MESA. The plan was agreed during the sixth plenary meeting of Project MESA, which was held in Ottawa in April and brought together governmental and industrial scientists and experts from ten countries in North America and Europe, as well as the Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA), the South Korean telecommunications standards body.

The project is an international partnership project between two of the world's leading standards development organizations, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) of the US. The new development plan includes a programme for the completion of the remaining research and technological development activities required to meet the advanced needs of users. Project MESA has recognized that the application of completely new thinking in the field of radio technology and wireless networking is required, and has reviewed many new proposals.

During the meeting in Ottawa, a programme for future technical work was planned, and it was decided that some of the key technologies to drive these requirements should be based on fully wireless system infrastructures, which have never been realized before. The plan foresees the completion of the necessary technical specifications as early as the end of 2004.

Spain's Special Space Mission

Indra Espacio of Spain has been contracted by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop the first Telemetry and Command Control Station (TT&C) in Europe capable of operating simultaneously in X- and Ka-bands, for implementation in future Deep Space missions. This need to change the frequencies used to control and receive scientific missions' data from traditional S-band to new X- and Ka-bands is due essentially to the interference that satellite links suffer from other land or mobile-based communications. To do so, Indra will be in charge of modifying and improving the satellite tracking station, VIL-4 at Villafranca del Castillo (Madrid).

The new station is expected to be used first in the SMART-1 experimental exploration mission to the moon, the launch of which is planned for 2003 or 2004. In this mission it is intended to test new technologies for Deep Space scientific missions, such as ionic propulsion and the use of X- and Ka-bands.

Such missions impose very strict aiming accuracy requirements (the maximum allowable error is of 0.001°), which necessitate the incorporation of an antenna monitoring system with novel error compensation algorithms. Because of this, the project represents a very important technological challenge, in order to provide the accuracy and complexity required.

Web Forum Seeks MEMbers

SUSS MicroTec and DELTA (Danish Electronics, Light & Acoustics) have launched MEMUNITY on, which is a Web site forum for those involved, or interested, in MEMS testing. It results from the Eurimus-funded MICROTEST project, which aims to develop special test systems for unpackaged MEMS and bring equipment and device manufacturers together to promote standardization and knowledge sharing.

The forum is intended not only to provide information on all manner of MEMS test topics, including news, technical papers, conference dates, etc., but also offers members the chance to submit devices which will then be evaluated for their test suitability without obligation. If suitable, and so desired, equipment will be configured according to their specific testing needs.

MEMUNITY is born out of recognition that the cost of devices is a major prohibiting factor for the widespread use of MEMS in diverse applications. Testing at wafer level, before the device is packaged, can not only reduce production costs, it also aids process optimisation and speeds up time to data during the design stages.

As Frank-Michael Werner, SUSS' product manager for MEMS Test Systems explains, "By testing at wafer level, the exorbitant packaging costs will not be wasted on bad die, thus bringing the cost of the end devices down to an acceptable level."

New Division Multiplies EADS' Defence & Security Efforts

In a move to integrate and strengthen its defence and security business EADS is realigning its defence electronics, military aircraft and telecommunications activities with the formation of the Defence & Security Systems division. With 5 B in revenue and 24,000 employees in nine different countries, the new division will be headquartered in Munich and headed by Tom Enders. Through the merger of the current Telecom and S&DE business units, the company is creating a fully-fledged 'system house', comprising the entire C4ISR chain, air defence systems and secure telecommunications systems as well as future large systems integration capabilities. The division will also include a new concept development, simulation and experimentation entity to develop innovative systems solutions.

EADS CEOs Philippe Camus and Rainer Hertrich said, "EADS Defence & Security will build upon our formidable strengths as a truly global defence systems powerhouse. Growing our capabilities and business revenues in defence is a core strategic priority for the group. A full integration of our operations and offering within one division will move us substantially towards this goal."

Looking to increase its role as a leading prime contractor in defence and security initiatives globally, the new division will enable EADS to offer customers and shareholders alike, greater scope and value. Commenting on this important development, Tom Enders said, "Customers are increasingly looking for innovative and integrated systems solutions to pursue their various transformation efforts. We are meeting those requirements with a leading-edge stronger industrial organisation.

"In particular, EADS Defence & Security Systems will increase our position and product offering in the areas of manned and unmanned mission systems, air defence systems, information, telecommunications and command and control systems, as well as new, network-enabling capabilities."

Space Takes Centre Stage in Japan

The National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) has opened the Space Component Engineering Centre, which is available internationally and expected to be widely utilized. It is open to the government sector, universities and private companies. The intention is for it not only to promote R&D activities conducted by the existing space component expert groups of NASDA's Office of Research and Development, but also to focus on promotion of consistent project cooperation, quality assessment of foreign and domestic components, and the conversion of civilian parts technology to space.

The opening of the new centre is NASDA's latest move to strengthen its basic technology by setting up R&D and supply systems related to space parts and materials which are fundamental for ensuring reliability and quality of launch vehicles, satellites and other space systems.

As part of its activities, the Centre will also make public technical information regarding common space components including qualified components and qualified test specifications.