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European Data Relay System

The European Data Relay System (EDRS) system is a planned European constellation of state of the art GEO satellites that will relay information and data between satellites, spacecraft, UAVs, and ground stations. The designers intend the system to provide almost full-time communication, even with satellites in Low Earth orbit that often have reduced visibility from ground stations. It will make on-demand data available to, for example, rescue workers who want near-real-time satellite data of a crisis region.

The system is being developed as part of the ARTES 7 programme and is intended to be an independent, European satellite system that reduces time delays in the transmission of large quantities of data. The programme is similar to the American Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System that was set up to support the Space Shuttle—but EDRS will use a new generation Laser Communication Terminal (LCT) technology. The laser terminal transmits 1.8 Gbit/s across 45,000 km, the distance of a LEO-GEO link. Such a terminal was successfully tested during in-orbit verification between the German radar satellite TerraSAR-X and the American NFIRE satellite.[1] It is also embarked on the commercial telecommunication satellite Alphasat to perform further system- and operational service demonstrations and in the operational sentinel satellites part of the European Copernicus Programme.[2]


  • Network 1
    • Space Segment 1.1
    • Ground Segment 1.2
  • Operations 2
  • Implementation 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


EDRS infrastructure will consist of two geostationary payloads (two further payloads are in the planning stage), a ground system consisting of a satellite control centre, a mission and operations centre, a feeder link ground station (FLGS), and data ground stations.

Space Segment

The first EDRS payload, EDRS-A, comprising a laser communication terminal and a Ka band inter-satellite link, will be placed on-board Eutelsat commercial telecommunication satellite, called Eutelsat 9B. The satellite will be launched in 2016[3] and will be positioned at 9°E.[4]

A second dedicated spacecraft, EDRS-C, also carrying a laser communication terminal, will follow in 2017[5] and will be positioned at 31°E.[6] These two parts will form the initial core space infrastructure that provides direct coverage for LEO satellites over Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Poles. Two further spacecraft are planned to complement the system in 2017 and 2019 respectively affording a complete coverage of the Earth and providing long-term system redundancy beyond 2030.

Ground Segment

The ground segment of EDRS consists of three ground receiving stations located at Weilheim, Germany, Redu, Belgium and Harwell, UK. The prime Mission Operations Centre will be in Ottobrunn, Germany, while a backup centre will be installed in Redu, Belgium.[7]

The EDRS-A payload as well as the EDRS-C satellite will be operated by the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) of the German Aerospace Center in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich, Germany.


The first users for EDRS will be the Sentinel-1 and -2 satellites of the Copernicus Programme (formerly the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security or GMES). The Sentinel satellites will provide data for the operational provision of geo-information products and services throughout Europe and the globe. EDRS will provide the data relay services for the Sentinel satellites facilitating a rapid downlink of large volumes of imagery. Extensive further capacities on the system will be available for third party users.

There are a number of key services that will benefit from this system's infrastructure:

  • Earth Observation applications in support of time-critical and/or data-intensive services, e.g. change detection, environmental monitoring.
  • Government and security services that need images from key European space systems such as Global Monitoring for Environment and Security.
  • Emergency response and crisis intervention applications that need information and data over areas affected by natural or man-made disasters.
  • Security forces that transmit data to Earth observation satellites, aircraft and unmanned aerial observation vehicles, to reconfigure such systems in real time.
  • Weather satellite services that require the fast delivery of large quantities of data around the world.


EDRS is being implemented as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus Defence & Space (ADS, former Astrium).[8] ESA funds the infrastructure development and is the anchor customer through the Sentinel satellite missions. ADS will carry the overall responsibility for the implementation of the space segment including launch, as well as the ground segment. ADS will then take over ownership of EDRS and will provide the data transmission services to ESA and customers worldwide.

See also


  1. ^ TerraSAR-X NFIRE test
  2. ^ Alphasat
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ EDRS Operations Center
  8. ^ [1]

External links

  • EDRS SpaceDataHighway
  • EDRS at ESA website
  • Redefining Satellite Data Transfer

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