ESA’s Artemis spacecraft will further develop European capabilities in satellite communications, testing new technologies and acting as a relay platform to improve existing services to other satellites and systems.
As well as demonstrating new kinds of mobile communications satellite services and providing direct satellite-to-satellite communications, Artemis will support development of a European satellite navigation system.
The spacecraft also has ion propulsion thrusters that will allow it to maintain a precise orbital position without having to carry large amounts of chemical propellant.
Artemis has a planned lifetime of ten years and will perform three specific functions:
- provide voice and data communications between mobile terminals, mainly for cars, trucks, trains or boats
- broadcast accurate navigation information as an element of EGNOS, a European satellite system designed to augment US Global Positioning Satellites and a similar Russian system known as Glonass
- send high data rate communications directly between satellites in low Earth orbit and the ground
Artemis is due to be launched by Ariane 5 on 12 July from the European spaceport in French Guiana.