The Dutch start-up company EstrellaSat aims to deliver broadband data links via satellite to and from mobile heavy machinery operating at remote mining, agricultural, forestry and construction sites around the world.
The objective is to become a key player in using satellite communications to connect mobile equipment sited in remote locations to the internet and to the home base wherever that may be.
EstrellaSat will provide complete turnkey systems to customers, including installation onboard customers' field equipment, installation of ground station channel units at customers’ premises and the development of software specific to customer needs.
Project: EstrellaSat Mobile Data Platform
EstrellaSat Mobile Data Platform (EMDP) will provide an essential component to establish the global communication paths supporting the gathering and delivering of data generated onboard mobile equipment and vehicles, and delivering them, via satellite, to any corner of the planet.
Mobile heavy machinery operating at remote sites has multiple systems onboard to monitor operations, control critical functions and provide data that engineers working at the home base, which may be situated many kilometres away, would like to monitor and maybe also control remotely. However, this requires stable and reliable data links that are not always available in remote areas, where cellular phone networks such as ground-based GMS or 3G systems may not have coverage.
The broadband data link proposed by EstrellaSat will provide reliable two-way data communication functionality with global coverage by using satellite links. To do this, an EstrellaSat EMDP modem and compact self-directing antenna, located on the machine, will be connected via a private channel on an L-Band satellite in geostationary orbit to a dedicated private Earth station.
This, in turn, will be connected to the internet or internal enterprise networks. A front-end application located on board the machine, unique to each customer, will connect to the different systems on the machine or vehicle to gather data that will then be bundled into a format that can be beamed via the satellite to the home-base channel unit and connected to the internet and corporate networks.
The system can also provide for the reverse flow of data transmission with commands sent from the central corporate site to the machine to control its systems remotely. With the improved level of communication, EstrellaSat will help to optimise the productivity of high-value equipment in mining and other remote operational sites.
In the future, the EstrellaSat product could also respond to a broader need for such functions for use on other types of vehicles such as cars, commercial trucks, boats and smaller mobile equipment.
From space to industry
The origins of the EMDP technology lie in the Voyager space programme of 1977. The Voyager programme was designed to reach and map Jupiter, and was guided by signals transmitted and received by the Deep Space Network (DSP), a network of three deep-space antennas located in Australia, California and Spain.
Signal definition progressively deteriorated during the long voyage to Jupiter, resulting in an intensive research effort by the DSP members to develop a secure communication technology. The breakthrough DSpace technology used in EMDP is a direct commercial spin-off from this effort.
Compared to existing alternatives, the various modulations, coding, acquisition and access schemes enable lower power requirements for the radio transmitter and improve the sensitivity of the radio receiver, consequently lowering the cost of terminal design and manufacture, and through more efficient use of satellite capacity significantly lowering the cost of delivering services.
ESA Business Incubation
Jean Verhardt, who is a co-founder of the South Australian space technology start-up DSpace Pty Ltd took on the leadership role in 2000 to develop a commercial satellite modem based on the cutting-edge satellite DSpace digital signal processing technology. When the DSpace business was sold to a large US technology company, Verhardt set up the new company EstrellaSat, to continue the commercialisation of the EMDP technology under licence from DSpace.
EstrellaSat is developing customer-specific applications originating mainly from the ESA space programme, that require broadband data access and which will enable highly data-intensive remote monitoring and control of mobile heavy equipment
The EstrellaSat product is being sponsored by ESA Business Incubation with technical assistance from the Agency's specialists, in particular in the area of bundling and extracting data for transmission. ESA support also includes general aspects of getting the company started, including finalising the business plan and defining how to market the product, and help in finding potential business partners through the ESA Business Incubator's network.
Incubation period and location
EstrellaSat is hosted at the ESA Business Incubation Centre at ESTEC since January 2008.
Jean S. Verhardt, inventor and manager of EstrellaSat B.V.
Marita Barrios, technical support
Jean S. Verhardt
Mobile: +31 6 48024905
Email: jean.verhardt @ estrellasat.com
European Space Research and Technology Centre
ESTEC - TEC/ST - Room Mb024
P.O. Box 299, Keplerlaan 1
NL-2201 AZ Noordwijk
Tel: +31 71 565 6030 (Verhardt)
Tel: +31 71 565 3505 (Barrios)
Fax: +31 71 565 6635
Last update: 28 March 2013