An agreement signed by Inmarsat and flight hardware manufacturer Addvalue, together with a leading satellite operator, is set to streamline the way that commercial and research operations for small, near earth orbit satellites are conducted.
The agreement will allow spacecraft to stay in continuous communications with their operation center on the ground, thereby enabling mission tasking and mission data delivery in near real time. It heralds the first constellation of Inter-Satellite Data Relay System (IDRS) equipped satellites, one that will provide a game-changing capability for satellite operators.
Previously, LEO satellite connectivity has been limited to when the spacecraft is within line-of-sight of a ground station. This delays on orbit testing, mission control and fault-finding efforts. With IDRS on-board, satellite operators will have access to on-demand, 24/7, near real-time, two-way IP-based links to all of their assets. This will allow them to respond to customer requirements and to operational anomalies in a timelier manner.
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 center via Inmarsat’s award-winning global network. The highly reliable geostationary network is uniquely suited to delivering IDRS — a cost effective, low-latency, on-demand data communications system — to support commercial and scientific missions. The combination of lightweight and small form factor on-board equipment plus low cost makes the system ideal for carrying out telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C) communications and mission tasking, receiving mission data monitoring, trouble-shooting and restoring operations.
Todd McDonell, Vice President of Global Government at Inmarsat, said that 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, commented that his company believes the 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 recognizes the unique value of IDRS and Addvalue strongly believe IDRS will disrupt the way future commercial and research satellite constellations are operated.