- a block of high resolution imaging satellites for Skybox Imaging aboard a Vega launch vehicle in 2016;
- one Airbus EDRS-C satellite as part of the SpaceDataHighway system aboard an Ariane 5 booster in the first quarter in 2017; and,
- two Airbus Falcon Eye satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO), using two Vega (or Soyuz) launchers in 2018 and 2019.
“We are extremely proud to play a part in deploying Skybox’s satellite imaging constellation.” said Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël. “The Vega launch system has already achieved four flawless flights for commercial and government customers. This new contract with Skybox marks our first U.S. customer of the Vega and adds to Vega’s order book of nine small satellites to be launched in the coming three years.”
The two Falcon Eye spacecraft are high-performance Earth observation systems that are being built for the United Arab Emirates armed forces by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space.
EDRS-C is the second SpaceDataHighway satellite to be launched. It will increase the system capacity and provide redundancy for the SpaceDataHighway. The satellite’s orbital position will be 31 East.
Like optical fibre on the Earth, the EDRS system, which is also referred to as SpaceDataHighway, will provide laser communications in Space with data rates of up to 1.8 Gigabits per second. The SpaceDataHighway will provide near-realtime data transfer from Earth observation satellites, drones or aircrafts to Earth via Geostationary communication satellites. It will be able to download faster and in a secure way, larger volumes of image data, helping to improve environmental and security monitoring, disaster response and crisis management
EDRS-C is a dedicated satellite, unlike EDRS-A which is a hosted payload on the EUTELSAT 9B satellite. EDRS-C will carry amongst others the EDRS payload which main component is the Laser Communication Terminal built by Airbus Defence and Space’s subsidiary, TESAT enabling data transfer rates of up to 1.8Gbps.
“The SpaceDataHighway establishes a new standard for space communication,” said Evert Dudok, Head of Communications, Intelligence and Security (CIS) Business Line, Airbus Defence and Space. “We are satisfied to launch EDRS-C on Ariane 5, the most reliable launcher in the World.”
“Arianespace is very proud to have been chosen by Airbus Defence and Space to launch EDRS C,” said Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël. “We are grateful to Airbus Defence and Space for this decision which allows Arianespace to be part of this innovative European public private partnership.”
The successful tests recently achieved between Alphasat and Sentinel 1 satellites have proved that the laser technology developed by Airbus Defence and Space is now fully operational. The SpaceDataHighway will be operational early 2016 following the launch of the first node, EDRS-A, planned to be launched in summer 2015.
The SpaceDataHighway programme is developed and implemented within Public Private Partnership (PPP) between the European Space Agency and Airbus Defence and Space. As prime, Airbus Defence and Space builds, owns, operates and co-finances the system’s infrastructure. The German Space Agency, DLR, also plays a key role in the funding of EDRS and in the development and the operation of the ground segment. 50 companies in 13 European countries are involved in the EDRS consortium, allowing European space industry to stay at cutting edge of technology.
Arianespace is the world’s leading satellite launch company, providing innovation to its customers since 1980. Backed by 20 shareholders and the European Space Agency, the company offers an international workforce renowned for a culture of commitment and excellence. Arianespace is the only operator in the world capable of launching any mass to any orbit from the Guiana Space Center. As of March 19, 2015, 221 Ariane launches, 36 Soyuz launches (10 at the Guiana Space Centre and 26 at Baikonur with Starsem) and four Vega launches have been performed. The company’s headquarters is in Evry, near Paris, and has local offices in Washington DC (United States), Tokyo (Japan) and Singapore.