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:
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.
In the figure the following components are shown:
The project plan foresaw the following schedule:
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.