As prime Airbus Defence and Space builds, owns, operates and co-finances the system’s infrastructure. Airbus Defence and Space also implements and provides the data transmission services to ESA and customers worldwide.
ESA funds the SpaceDataHighway development through its Advanced Research in Telecommunication Systems (ARTES) Programme. As part of the European Commission´s Copernicus initiative (formerly GMES Global Monitoring for Environment and Security), which is the anchor customer, the Sentinel satellites will provide data for the operational provision of geo-information products and services throughout Europe and the globe. SpaceDataHighway provides the data relay services for the Sentinel satellites facilitating a rapid downlink of large volumes of imagery.
Airbus Defence and Space is in a unique position to implement and operate this revolutionary service as the company can capitalise on its extensive expertise as operator of Earth Observation and telecom satellites as well as provider of Earth Observation and telecom satellite services.
The laser terminal was built by TESAT-Spacecom, a 100% Airbus Defence and Space subsidiary.
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The German Space Agency (DLR) also plays a key role in the SpaceDataHighway project and has been contracted by Airbus Defence and Space to design, implement, deliver and operate major parts of the ground infrastructure. This comprises the implementation and operation of the Payload Control Centre for EDRS-A, the Satellite Control Centre for EDRS-C as well as four ground stations in Germany, Belgium and the U.K. The novel laser communication technology used for the SpaceDataHighway has been developed with funding from DLR and the Swiss Space Office (SSO).