European Space Agency

ESA's Transportable Communications Vehicle

The ESA TCV is a transportable transmitting and receiving vehicle using Ku band with many potential applications benefiting any user needing a rugged mobile station with satellite connectivity, such as Disaster Management situations and news gathering organisations.
The TCV project is funded by the European Space Agency. It highlights the importance ESA places on easily deployable communication systems and serves as a living transportable satcom set-up with continual upgrades to equipment and capabilities.

Initiated two years ago to demonstrate novel transportable technologies, the TCV is an ESA asset and - subject to conditions - can be provided to qualified interested parties wishing to use it.

Up-Link Station
The Ku-band uplink section is comprised of a 400W TWT (Travelling Wave Tube), for a high rate of data transfer. The uplink chain is fully redundant with two transmitters.

TCV Antenna

The vehicle is equipped with a 1.2 metre parabolic antenna providing excellent link quality. The antenna folds down fully (image above) during transport and is self-pointing for quick set-up. A 175º azimuth movement and elevation movement between 5º and 60ºare sufficient for any real-life field situation.

DVB-TV functionality means that the ESA TCV can be used to broadcast live or recorded events to and from anywhere in the world, especially vital for news reporting services. A live or recorded video source can be connected directly to the vehicle for transmission via satellite in MPEG 2 broadcast mode.

UPS Control

The ESA TCV is also capable of acting as a DVB-IP gateway for contribution/distribution of one-way services. Both Video-streaming and file pushing are available. A typical scenario in this case could have the TCV transmit via satellite to a DVB-IP set-top box.

The TCV Working Environment

The ESA TCV can carry an extensive suite of onboard equipment (image left) ensuring reliable satellite connectivity. In the future, the TCV will be equipped with a DVB-RCS terminal to provide interactive communication channels via satellite.

Throughout 2004, ESA provides operational support to ESA directorates as well as to external events and users.

The first of these demonstrations took place in Trento Italy on 22 May 2003 for the Italian Civil Protection Authority.

A second demonstration came in January 2004 for the European Commission in Brussels Belgium (image right) during the Global IPv6 Service Launch Event.

TCV demonstrates for EC

Parabolic Flight Campaign

In March 2004 in Bordeaux France (image left), the TCV was used to support the Parabolic Flight Campaign for Human Spaceflight. The TCV supported the five day event by transmitting Live using a DVB-S 'feed' on Sesat.

Also in Bordeaux from March 23 to 26, support was provided to the 36th ESA Campaign for Microgravity Research.

During the Sant Egidio event on 18 April 2004, the TCV (image right) was used in combination with the MediaSpace DVB-IP platform for a live event distribution throughout Europe from Vatican City.

Sant Egidio Vatican City

French Civil Protection

In September 2004, after an intense test activity carried out together with French Civil Protection Authorities (Remifor) representatives, the TCV supported the 111º National Congress of French Fire Brigades (image left) at Montpellier France.

The TCV was equipped with an AmerHis terminal and located next to the Alcatel Space booth at Le Bourget. It (image right) facilitated a connection allowing Continuous Video Streaming.

Demonstrations took place over three days at Hispamar in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, EMS in Montreal Canada and the Espacio and Hispasat facilities in Arganda (Madrid) Spain. The work was carried out in collaboration with Alcatel Space of France.

ESA's Transportable Communications Vehicle

Infopoverty Event

The TCV also made an appearance at the InfoPoverty Exhibition (image left) in Milan Italy on 8 February 2007. Together with the Observatory for Cultural and Audiovisual Communication (OCCAM), ESA is investigating how the use of space based applications can help in the fight against poverty. The TCV was invited to demonstrate how it can operate in areas where terrestrial infrastructure is degraded.

At the Medicine Dialogue Communion (MCD) Association event (image right) held in Rome on 16th February 2007. The TCV transmitted part of the event to Europe, Africa and America, via the MediaSpace platform. The transmission was made via a HellaSat satellite. The primary role of the MCD is to promote cultural exchange among medical practioners from diverse backgrounds.

TCV at Gemelli Hospital

Check this page for future developments.

All images courtesy of ESRIN EUI-TP group.

Published 20 February 2007
Last updated at 20 February 2007 - 12:11