Toulouse, 10 March 2010 – It is the "Swiss Army Knife" of satellites. COMS (Communications, Oceanography and Meteorology Satellite) is the first European 3-axis stabilised geostationary observation satellite to carry three payloads dedicated to meteorology applications, ocean observation and telecommunications.
COMS carries a meteorology imager, an “ocean colour” payload and a Ka-band telecommunications payload.
COMS will perform continuous observation from its orbital position of world scale meteorological phenomena, along with specific local weather events such as hurricanes, monsoons and sandstorms.
COMS will also carry a multi-band imager dedicated to ocean observation. Built by Airbus Defence and Space, it will be used in particular by the fishing industry to monitor changes in the marine ecosystem. This innovative imager offers 400 m resolution, a level of performance unprecedented in geostationary orbit.
The third payload is an experimental Ka-band telecommunications module, developed by the South Korean Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), in order to validate wide-band multi-media telecommunications services.
The satellite left Toulouse today for the French Guiana Space Centre, from where it will be launched at the end of April.
COMS was developed and manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space in cooperation with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). Engineers initially worked together for 2 years in Toulouse. The work was then transferred to Daejeon, where the teams spent an additional 2 years assembling the satellite and testing it in KARI facilities. The satellite then made the return trip to Toulouse for finalisation before being sent to the launch pad.
Jean Dauphin, Director of Earth Observation and Science for Airbus Defence and Space France, said: “All the tests performed on COMS have confirmed Airbus Defence and Space’s ability to design and build 3-axis stabilised geostationary observation satellites that can be used for a variety of highly demanding applications. This represents a European first and Airbus Defence and Space employees can be proud of having achieved such a significant success. Airbus Defence and Space has met the challenge of integrating three separate meteorology, oceanography and telecommunication payloads on to the same satellite—three payloads that sometimes had conflicting requirements.”
The development of 3-axis stabilised geostationary satellites represents a major technological achievement, as they are considerably more powerful and can accommodate larger and more complex payloads. The new satellites will revolutionize Earth observation by making continuous space-borne monitoring a reality.
Airbus Defence and Space has also successfully delivered the operational version of the image registration ground software. This software will provide South Korea with the next generation of image positioning, which is essential for meteorological models.
With a take-off weight of 2.5 metric tons and an end-of-life on-board power level of 2.5 kW, the satellite will remain in service in a geostationary orbit for at least eight years. COMS re-uses some of the avionics of the Eurostar E3000 telecommunications satellites, adapting them for optical observation from a geostationary orbit.
This achievement confirms Airbus Defence and Space as a key global player in the field of geostationary orbit observation satellites. This is demonstrated in terms of understanding the vital performance requirements for this type of mission, designing the corresponding on-board and ground systems and then building the satellite and optical payloads in response to these specific needs.
COMS also solidifies Airbus Defence and Space's position as the world's leading exporter of Earth observation satellites.
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.
Daniel Mosely (Airbus Defence and Space UK) Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 8180
Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR) Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32
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