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N° 44–1994: Signature of an agreement between ESA and NASDA concerning an interorbit link experiment at optical and frequencies

9 December 1994

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed today by Mr. J.-M. Luton, Director General of ESA and Mr. M. Yamano, President of the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) of Japan concerning an interorbit link experiment at optical and S-Band frequencies between the ARTEMIS satellite of ESA and the OICETS (Optical Inter- orbit Communications Engineering Test Satellite) of NASDA. Under this agreement which constitutes the first major collaboration between ESA and NASDA in the field of satellite telecommunications, the ESA ARTEMIS satellite which will be placed in geostationary orbit, will relay experimental data links to and from the low earth orbiting OICETS satellite. ESA and NASDA will jointly evaluate and exchange the results of the envisaged experimental links. The links will be set up using the SILEX (Semi-Conductor Laser Intersatellite Link Experiment) optical communications terminal carried onboard ARTEMIS and a similar terminal carried onboard OICETS.

The ARTEMIS satellite currently scheduled to be launched in 1997, is part of ESA's plan to set up an orbital data relay service to allow satellites to communicate more quickly and with higher data rates to the ground. The use of optical frequencies for such links represents a major technical advance. Optical frequencies have the potential for very high capacity and for secure communications using small terminals. In addition to an optical capability, ARTEMIS will provide data relay links at Ka-Band (23 to 27 GHz) and S-Band (2 GHz). The ARTEMIS satellite will also carry an advanced L- Band payload providing communications to mobile users, such as cars and lorries, throughout Europe, including Western Russia.

The OICETS satellite currently scheduled to be launched in 1998 by the NASDA J-1 launch vehicle will be placed into an orbit at an altitude of 500Km. Its primary objectives are to conduct orbital demonstrations of pointing, acquisition and tracking technology as well as other technologies for optical communications. OICETS will have a mass in orbit of approximately 500 Kg and will use S-Band link for its telemetry and telecommands.

ARTEMIS is being developed by ESA under the Prime Contractorship of Alenia Spazio in Italy. Prime Contractorship of the SILEX optical terminal is provided by Matra Marconi Space of France.