Today, Mr. Jean-Marie Luton, Director General of the European Space Agency, ESA, and Mr. Isao Uchida, President of the National Space Development Agency of Japan, NASDA, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the launch and utilisation of ESA's telecommunications satellite Artemis (Advanced Relay and Technology Mission Satellite).
This Memorandum of Understanding, an element of wider collaboration between ESA and NASDA, represents one of the most important and advanced space cooperation efforts between the two agencies so far. It stipulates that NASDA will launch in the year 2000 the Artemis satellite on a Japanese H-IIA launcher. In exchange ESA will provide NASDA with data relay capacity through Artemis.
ESA's Artemis will test and operate new telecommunications techniques and has a two fold mission. It will provide two way communications via satellite between fixed Earth stations and mobiles (trucks, trains and cars) all over Europe and adjacent regions. In addition, it will allow the reception of data from spacecraft in low Earth orbit and their retransmission to Earth stations and other users, both by using conventional radio waves and, in a revolutionary way, using laser beams. Artemis will provide communication links with, for instance, the ESA's future environmental ENVISAT satellite, the European elements of the International Space Station, NASDA's Optical Inter-Orbit Communications Engineering Test Satellite OICETS, other Japanese Earth Observation satellites and the French Earth observation satellite SPOT 4.
Artemis is being developed for ESA by a European industrial consortium led by Alenia Spazio (Italy).