Inmarsat and flight hardware manufacturer, AddValue, have signed an agreement with an unidentified ‘leading satellite operator’ to implement the first constellation of Inter-Satellite Data Relay System (IDRS) equipped satellites.
Inmarsat and AddValue in a joint press release announced that the IDRS implementation will provide a ‘game changing capability’ for satellite operators and added that the latest three-way agreement is set to streamline the way satellite operators conduct its commercial and research operations with small, near earth orbit satellites.
The agreement will allow the spacecraft to stay in continuous communications with its operation centre on the ground, thereby enabling mission tasking and mission data delivery in near real time. Previously, low earth orbiting satellite connectivity has been limited to when the spacecraft is within line-of-sight of an earth station. This resulted in delays in-orbit testing, mission control and fault-finding efforts. With IDRS on-board, the satellite operators will have access to on-demand, 24/7, near real-time, two-way IP-based links to all its assets. This will allow for timely response to customer requirements and to operational anomalies, say the two companies.
AddValue has worked with Inmarsat to develop a terminal suitable for deployment on a wide range of satellites, even down to small satellites within the sub-50 kg class. The AddValue terminal on-board the satellite will communicate to its operations centre via Inmarsat’s network. The geostationary network is suited to delivering the cost effective, low-latency, on-demand data communications system, known as IDRS, to support commercial and scientific missions.
The combination of light weight and small form factor on-board equipment plus low cost makes the system perfect for carrying out telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C) communications and mission tasking, receiving mission data monitoring, trouble-shooting and restoring operations, highlighted the two companies.
Commenting on the importance of this partnership, Todd McDonell, Vice President of Global Government at Inmarsat said: “This service enables the constellation to be controlled and to transfer mission data via Inmarsat’s global geostationary satellite communications network, wherever and whenever required.
“This will help low earth orbit satellite operators to achieve their mission more effectively and will broaden the capability that they will be able to offer their users. What’s even more exciting is that this is only the first of a set of potential commercial and research missions appropriate for the IDRS service.”
Dr Colin Chan, Chairman and CEO of Addvalue noted: “We are truly pleased to announce the signing of our first IDRS contract with a satellite operator. We believe our customer’s use of IDRS, with its unrivalled communications capability, will significantly improve the operational efficiency of their multi-satellite low orbit earth constellation.
“This contract recognises the unique value of IDRS and we strongly believe IDRS will disrupt the way future commercial and research satellite constellations are operated. We are fully committed to ensuring its successful delivery as we pursue other IDRS projects and grow our IDRS customer base. Indeed, some of these projects are already in an advanced stage of discussion.”