A demonstration of Airbus Defence and Space’s expertise in radar technology
Public-private partnership brings proven benefits to space industry
The project to map the Earth in three dimensions can now begin
Baikonur, 21 June 2010 - The TanDEM-X radar satellite designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space (Friedrichshafen) was successfully launched early this morning. At 04:14 hours CEST (08:14 hours local time), a Russian Dnepr launch vehicle carrying the huge satellite, which has a launch mass of more than 1.3 metric tons and measures five metres in length, lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Around ten minutes later, the satellite separated from the launch vehicle’s upper stage. The first signals from the satellite were received by the Norwegian “Troll” ground station in Antarctica at 04:45 hours.
TanDEM-X will operate in tandem with its almost identical twin, the TerraSAR-X satellite that became operational in 2007. Together, the pair of satellites will survey the entire surface of the Earth from an altitude of 514 kilometres. They will pass over each region many times, gathering data with which to construct an elevation model of the globe – covering no less than 150 million square kilometres.
“After this auspicious start to the mission, the new project to map our planet in three dimensions can finally begin,” said Airbus Defence and Space CEO Evert Dudok. “With the two Airbus Defence and Space-built satellites flying in formation, it will be possible to produce a digital elevation model of the Earth to an accuracy of better than two meters. This level of quality has never been achieved before.”
The success of TanDEM-X is a reflection of Airbus Defence and Space’s expertise in satellite-based radar technology and will add to the company’s competitive strength, also in the field of geo-information services.
Dudok adds: “Airbus Defence and Space has invested heavily in this project, with the aim of generating new business. TanDEM-X/TerraSAR-X are the product of a public-private partnership between the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and Airbus Defence and Space."
The total estimated cost of the TanDEM-X mission amounts to €165 million. Of this sum, the DLR will contribute €125 million, while the European space company Airbus Defence and Space will provide the remaining €40 million from its own resources. The TanDEM-X mission is being implemented and jointly financed by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and Airbus Defence and Space GmbH under the terms of a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement and with the support of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). Airbus Defence and Space subsidiary Infoterra GmbH is responsible for the commercial marketing of the TanDEM-X elevation model.
TanDEM-X is project jointly implemented by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, Friedrichshafen, under the terms of a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement and with the financial support of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi).
The principle aim of the TanDEM-X mission (TerraSAR-X add-on for Digital Elevation Measurement) is to gather data with which to construct a digital elevation model of the globe. Flying in close formation, at a distance of only a few hundred metres apart, the TanDEM-X satellite and its almost identical twin, the TerraSAR-X satellite launched on 15 June 2007, together form the first configurable SAR interferometer (SAR = Synthetic Aperture Radar) in space. A further element of the TanDEM-X system is the powerful ground segment, closely interfaced with that of TerraSAR-X, which provides all of the functions required to control and monitor this complex mission. With the two satellites flying in formation and operating in parallel, it will take three years to gather data on the entire surface of the Earth.
The DLR is responsible for the scientific exploitation of the data sent back by TanDEM-X, mission planning and execution, satellite flight control, and compilation of the digital elevation model. Airbus Defence and Space constructed the satellite and is responsible for part of the development and exploitation costs. As in the case of TerraSAR-X, Airbus Defence and Space subsidiary Infoterra GmbH is responsible for the commercial marketing of the data gathered by TanDEM-X.
The cost of marketing the data and derivative products is shared between the DLR and Airbus Defence and Space as defined in the PPP agreement, as in the case of the TerraSAR-X twin satellite. Infoterra GmbH, created in 2001 for the express purpose of marketing elevation data gathered by TerraSAR-X, will also be responsible for supplying customers around the world with data obtained from TanDEM-X. Since TerraSAR-X went into operation in early 2008, Infoterra has built up a sales network serving more than 50 partners in 33 countries to complement its already sound position in the international market for Earth observation data and services. This same established sales network will be used to market TanDEM-X data and products. Applications for TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X data are many and varied, and include improving the efficiency of oil, gas and mineral extraction operations, optimising the deployment of crisis response forces, predicting the impact of natural disasters, and more precise mission planning for the deployment of defence and security units. Above all, national cartographic agencies will be able to take advantage of the more precise elevation data to improve the accuracy of their published maps.
About Airbus Defence and Space
Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2009, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €4.8 billion and more than 15,000 employees 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 the development and provision of secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security satellite communications equipment, geo-information products and services, and navigation services.
AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2009, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €42.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 119, 000.
Infoterra GmbH is one of the world’s leading providers of radar satellite data and services. The company holds exclusive commercial exploitation rights for the data collected by Germany’s TerraSAR-X radar satellite, which has been operating since 2008 and delivering images of unprecedented accuracy in high resolution. Thanks to the outstanding capabilities of this satellite, the company can offer its customers throughout the world a full range of mature products and services including cartography, monitoring and elevation models, in addition to satellite images and facilities for their direct reception.
The TanDEM-X mission is an important addition to this product portfolio, providing the data input for the creation of a global elevation model based on internationally uniform measurement principles. Infoterra GmbH employs over 150 people at its headquarters in Friedrichshafen and its production site in Potsdam. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space and forms part of the geo-information services division of Airbus Defence and Space.
Contacts for the media:
Daniel Mosely (Airbus Defence and Space GB) Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 8180
Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space D) Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971
Mathias Pikelj (Airbus Defence and Space D) Tel.: +49 (0)7545 8 9123
Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR) Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32
Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP) Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41