PARIS, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- The European Space Agency (ESA) on Friday announced the design of the first commercially-operated data relay satellite system has been completed and approved.
This fast-tracks the launch of the service to its first customer, the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative of the European Union.
A design review board of senior members from the ESA, Astrium and the German Aerospace Center approved Europe's data relay satellite system (EDRS) design: from the satellites to the support that will be required from the ground.
EDRS will deliver services to the scientific community by providing a telecommunications network that is fast, reliable and seamless, making real-time information from satellites available on demand.
It is being built through a public-private partnership between ESA and Astrium Services, using payloads carried by two satellites in geostationary orbit, hovering 36,000 km above the equator, where their speed matches Earth's rotation.
Data transmitted from satellites in lower orbits to either of these EDRS payloads can then be relayed to the ground.
"EDRS is a fantastic breakthrough for Europe from the innovative laser communication terminal technology to the provision of operational services by 2014 that combines the best from European space companies with the national and European space institutions," said Magali Vaissiere, a director at ESA.
ESA said its partner Astrium Services is ready to begin production.
The first of the two EDRS payloads will be carried on the Eutelsat-EB9B satellite, starting operation in 2014. The second satellite, planned for launch in 2016, will carry the second EDRS payload as well as the Hylas-3 payload from the UK's Avanti Communications.