The first node of the European Data Relay System will be launched on 29 January from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
EDRS is one of a kind and ESA's most ambitious telecom programme to date, creating the means for an entirely new market in commercial satellite communications.
Dubbed the 'SpaceDataHighway', EDRS will uniquely provide near-realtime Big Data relay services using cutting-edge laser technology. It will dramatically improve access to time-critical data, aiding disaster response by emergency services and maritime surveillance, for example.
Airbus Defence and Space are ESA's programme partner and operator of the service. The first node, called EDRS-A, will begin relaying information this summer from its first customers: the ESA/European Commission Copernicus Sentinel-1 and -2 satellites.
From that point on, ESA and Airbus will use the first and future EDRS nodes to increase the time low-orbiting satellites, the International Space Station and unmanned aircraft can send data to Earth from intermittent to near-continuous, opening up a wealth of new possibilities.
Once fully deployed, EDRS will relay up to 50 terabytes of data from space to Earth every day. It will eliminate the downlink delay currently prohibiting immediate access to satellite information and phase out Europe's reliance on foreign ground stations.
EDRS-A will be launched as a hosted payload on the Eutelsat-9B satellite on 29 January at 22.20 GMT (23:20 CET, 04:20 30 January local time) on a Proton rocket, with satellite separation around 9 hours later. In-orbit tests will begin on the EDRS laser payload three weeks later. The payloads were built by Airbus subsidiary TESAT-Spacecom and funded by the DLR German Aerospace Center Space Administration.
Learn more about EDRS at: http://www.esa.int/EDRS and follow the mission on Twitter via the hashtags #SpaceDataHighway and #letslaunch, @ESA & @ESA_artes_apps
About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe's gateway to space.
ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 20 are Member States of the EU.
ESA has established formal cooperation with seven other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.
Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.
Learn more about ESA at www.esa.int
For further information, please contact:
ESA Media Relations Office
Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99