ESA has selected Ariane-5 to launch its latest communications satellite, Artemis, that will play a vital role in developing future European and global communications systems.
Artemis was originally scheduled for launch on a Japanese H-IIA rocket under a cooperative agreement with the Japanese space agency, NASDA. However, development delays with the launcher meant a review of launch options by ESA during the second half of 2000.
As a result Artemis was switched to Europe’s Ariane-5 and is now scheduled for launch as a co-passenger with INSAT 3C in the late summer of this year. The completed satellite is currently in storage awaiting shipment to the French Guiana launch site.
During a planned lifetime of 10 years, Artemis will test and develop operations in new areas of telecommunication and navigation, and also initiate a European data-relay system – a means of satellite to satellite communication.
Artemis has three specific goals:
to provide voice and data communications between mobile terminals, mainly for cars, trucks, trains or boats in remote areas of Europe and North Africa, and the Atlantic
to broadcast GPS-like navigation signals compatible with those from United States GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) and Russian GLONASS satellites
- to provide high data rate communication links directly between satellites in Earth orbit
ESA’s Artemis programme manager, Gotthard Oppenhauser, said: “Artemis is going to have a major impact on the development of new telecommunications services over the next decade.
“The difficulties with the Japanese launcher meant we realistically had to look for an alternative in order not to delay the Artemis launch further. The spacecraft was originally built for launch on Ariane so it meant we could make the switch to an Ariane-5 without any design changes.”