Airbus Defence and Space

Space in daily life Press releases

Airbus Defence and Space builds data highway in space - EDRS

• Airbus Defence and Space will enable real-time image delivery from space with the European Data Relay System (EDRS)

• Airbus Defence and Space will partner with ESA in a Public-Private Partnership to provide data transmission services facilitating on-demand Earth observation with satellites

• The EDRS will transmit substantial volumes of Earth observation data to benefit environmental protection, emergency response and security applications as well as commercial Earth observation satellite operators and their users

Paris, October 4th 2011 – Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space company, will partner with the European Space Agency (ESA) to design, deliver and operate the European Data Relay System (EDRS).

The EDRS will be implemented through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between ESA and Airbus Defence and Space. Under the terms of the agreement the partners will jointly finance the EDRS. ESA contract with Airbus Defence and Space amounts to €275 million.

The EDRS’s two telecommunication payloads in geostationary orbit will enable broadband, bi-directional data relay between Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites and an associated ground segment via either of the EDRS payloads. The EDRS increases the time LEO spacecraft can be in communication with the ground and enables immediate broadband data transfer to the user. It also provides the capability to re-programme LEO Earth observation (EO) satellites in almost real-time. This ensures the timely acquisition and delivery of imagery following natural disasters, and helps emergency services on the ground to accurately map the affected areas and effectively coordinate response efforts. Currently, LEO satellites can only be reprogrammed and images can only be received when the satellites pass over a specific geographic location with a dedicated ground station.

The new space data highway will provide Europe with independent, on demand access to EO data from LEO satellites in real-time. It solves the growing problem of ”data traffic jams in space” and enables an improved reactivity as well as a more intense and efficient use of EO satellites.

“The EDRS will draw on Airbus Defence and Space’s expertise not only in Public-Private Partnerships but also on our unique experience in providing both secure satellite communications and geo-information services,” said Eric Béranger, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. “Along with the EU and ESA, the EDRS has the potential to be utilised by other national space agencies and states as well as commercial users.”

EDRS operations will commence with the launch of the first EDRS mission at the end of 2014. The mission will be embarked on board a Eutelsat satellite: EUTELSAT 9B that will be manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space and located at 9° East. Airbus Defence and Space will also contract OHB-System, Germany, to build a second EDRS satellite for launch in 2015. The EDRS payloads of both satellites will be manufactured by TESAT, a 100% subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space. The Laser Communication Terminals that transmit data between the EDRS and LEO satellites at up to 1.8 gigabits per second are developed and built by TESAT. This high-end technology has been developed under a contract from the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

The European Union (EU) with its Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme and its Sentinel satellites is intended to be the anchor tenant for the service, with additional capacity on the system marketed by Airbus Defence and Space to third-party users.

Airbus Defence and Space has been selected after competition by ESA as EDRS Programme Prime due to the division’s global expertise in secure satellite communications, its experience as an EO satellite operator and EO service provider as well as its heritage in innovative financing schemes.


To watch the animation: 



About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services.

In 2010, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €5 billion and more than 15,000 employees, mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment, and Airbus Defence and Space for comprehensive end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security satellite communications equipment, bespoke geo-information and navigation services worldwide.

AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2010, the Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 45.8 billion and employed a workforce of nearly 122,000.


Press contacts:

Daniel Mosely (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                      Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 8180

Astrid Emerit (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                                        Tel:  +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 36

Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER)                                                   Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                                 Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41

Earth Observation