Capella Space successfully conducts first data relay order through Inmarsat

Inmarsat, based out of London, and Addvalue Innovation, a subsidiary of Addvalue Technologies Ltd., based out of Singapore, had been working for many years on establishing a commercial Inter-Satellite Data Relay System (IDRS) that can continuously connect satellites in low Earth orbit with corresponding ground networks.

Capella Space successfully conducts first data relay order through Inmarsat
Capella Space successfully conducts first data relay order through Inmarsat

Capella Space successfully conducts first data relay order through Inmarsat

November 23 saw the successful relay of data between the on-ground operations center of Capella Space and its Sequoia synthetic aperture radar satellite in low-Earth orbit. The announcement was made by Fleet operator Inmarsat and communications technology firm Addvalue Innovation.

Inmarsat, based out of London, and Addvalue Innovation, a subsidiary of Addvalue Technologies Ltd., based out of Singapore, had been working for many years on establishing a commercial Inter-Satellite Data Relay System (IDRS) that can continuously connect satellites in low Earth orbit with corresponding ground networks.

The very first commercial demonstration of IDRS was conducted on November 12, when tasking orders were sent to Sequoia through the Inmarsat-4 L-band constellation in geostationary orbit.

Delays in transmitting Earth observation tasking orders are a common plight of many Government agencies which purchase radar imagery and data. As such, IDRS holds immense potential in for application in SAR constellations.

Inmarsat Global Government president Todd McDonell told SpaceNews that in-orbit connectivity represents an exciting new growth market for both Inmarsat and Addvalue. LEO operators like Capella Space are constantly working to offer the kind of timely services their customers expect today, in a connected world.

As such, Inmarsat’s L-band satellite network offers seamless real-time communications designed for mobility, which can also be administered globally.

Addvalue and Inmarsat also believe IDRS technology will soon be adopted by organizations involved in the compilation of climate data, as well as ones conducting disaster relief missions, as it enables operators to relay commands to satellites without needing to wait for them to be in close proximity with ground stations.

The announcement further states that the new data link should reduce waiting times for such data transfers from several hours to a handful of minutes. This can enhance life-saving efforts in a natural disaster or enable observers to spot issues and direct resources to tackle them before they develop or get out of hand.”

A contract order for six IDRS terminals was placed by Capella Space at the 2019 International Astronautical Congress.

Christian Lenz, the Vice President of Engineering at Capella Space, also expressed his joy in the partnership with Inmarsat and Addvalue, as it would help Capella deliver an entirely new level of efficiency and functionality to its customers.

The real-time connectivity would also allow the company to greatly reduce the time between customer tasking requests and when we collect the data on-orbit.

Meanwhile, Inmarsat and Addvalue are also approaching satellite constellation operators to market their IDRS terminals. The potential that Inmarsat’s Broadband Global Area Network presents in communication with satellites in low Earth orbit has also been acknowledged by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Following the same, an $18 million DARPA contract for its program, Persistent Broadband Ground Connectivity for Spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit, was also awarded to Inmarsat in 2010.