European Space Agency

Telespazio EDRS phase 0 study


  • OBJ-01: Identification and classification of the potential users of DRS. Acquisition of information on the schedule of upcoming missions which might be interested in DRS services.
  • OBJ-02: Definition of a mission architecture. Mission architecture has to address how DRS services have to interface with the users communities; how many DRS satellites should be considered to comply with users communities needs.
  • OBJ-03: Develop a system level architecture on top of the mission analysis foundation to define high level system and segment functional, performance and interface requirements.
  • OBJ-04: Verification if the current technology, both space and ground, is already mature to support the mission or if strategic technology developments need to foreseen.
  • OBJ-05: Business viability of a DRS function. Such a business viability will compare the expected turnover, both from institutional (civilian and defence initiatives) users as well as commercial users, and the CAPEX and OPEX characterizing the mission.


  • From past and current DRS missions (Artemis and TDRSS) it has been derived that possible users request a service characterised by high level reliability and availability, continuity of service and stable technology solutions.
  • The market analysis performed during this study allowed to define different market segments with different needs. A more detailed analysis should start to better define some critical market segment (defence in particular) and to start, with support of ESA, a "road show" with the DRS potential users in order to present the system and commence the interaction on possible “pre-commitments” with such users.
  • The architecture analysis performed allows to define different baselines for the DRS mission, taking into account the requirements of different users. Baselines are conceived using a scalable approach that allows to define different levels of complexity and costs.

    In the next phase of the DRS program, taking into account the ESA suggestion, a stable configuration baseline should be defined having a reliable development plan and long term supporting plan that will give the market confidence that the DRS service will be available on a long term basis defending the investments that each single Agency has to budget.

    The architectural baseline has to include all those functions which are required to migrate from a technology mission, like ARTEMIS, into a fully operational one, for example: (i) accounting and billing, (ii) system performance monitoring; (iii) service level agreements and key performance indicators; (iv) more advanced programming and planning functions required by a rapid allocation of the system resources (e.g. rapid telecommanding).


The communication between Space and Ground Segment is a key requirement in all the space missions to accomplish the scope of the mission itself.

In missions such as Earth Observation, deep space and exploration, launchers, ISS, this need is strictly related to the visibility between the spacecraft and the Ground Stations. A DRS mission, through geostationary satellites, can dramatically improve the visibility time for data downloading reducing the need of different Ground Stations located in all Earth regions.

This advantage allows many different space missions to send and receive data from the users, increasing significantly the continuity of the communication links and by consequence the traffic volume downloaded to ground. In this context the EO market segment seems to be the more interested to the benefits provided by a DRS mission. These benefits can be summarized in a reduction of the system response time obtained by means of two different actions:

  • Increase of the visibility time between LEO and ground stations, allowing an increasing download capability,
  • Possibility to rapid re-task the LEO by means of the rapid telecommanding, reducing the time needed to address the sensor on a specific target.

In particular this last action could be interesting for defence or dual users. For these kind of users, which usually need mandatory requirements for the information security, it is also possible to manage data encryption capabilities, by the implementation of DRS dedicated mission.

In this optic an European DRS mission represents an opportunity for the European Space community to endow with a set of services already available for US space programs (TDRSS mission), that allow a more effective service to all the space initiatives either in civilian or in defence field.


The DRS mission can be considered to be made up of a set of entities which represent the different Segments, Centers and Stations devoted to performing the main functions and operations at ground and space level needed to exploit the Mission in terms of mission management and service provisioning.

Drivers leading to the assessment of the DRS Ground and Space Segment architecture are based on the mission characteristics: a geostationary system involved in a telecommunication data relay application. However, in addition to the DRS Core Services, the proposed architecture also addresses the DRS Complementary Services as well as the Operator Proposed Additional Services.

The following figure, depicting the above Scenario, introduces the context of the DRS Mission.

click for larger image

In the figure the following components are shown:

  • Ground Control Center, which is in charge of Satellite(s) monitor and control;
  • Mission Control Center, which is the interface with the users, it manages user requests and generates an allocation plan to configure both ground and space resources;
  • Communication Center which includes all communication functions and infrastructure necessary to provide the requested service.


The project plan foresaw the following schedule:

  • 19/10/2007 Kick Off Meeting;
  • 11/12/2007 Progress Meeting n° 1;
  • 12/02/2008 Mid Term Review;
  • 03/04/2008 Progress Meeting n° 2;
  • 16/05/2008 Final Review;
  • 15/07/2008 Completion of the Study.

Current status

The DRS study was completed in July 2008. The interest of ESA in developing a European DRS mission leads to the presentation of an Announcement of Opportunity. This invites interested European companies to present a proposal for the development of a DRS mission that should start at the end of 2008 and foresees the launch of the first two satellites (that should use piggy-back missions) during 2012.

Status date

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 17:05