Singapore-based company Addvalue Technologies has formalized a global agreement with Inmarsat to jointly offer what is arguably the world’s first commercial communications service to improve command-and-control communications for LEOsats.
The new Inter-Satellite Data Relay Service (IDRS) – which both companies have been developing and testing in space for over a year – promises to enhance and improve operational efficiency of LEO satellite operations.
Currently, communications with LEO satellites is only available when the satellite is within line-of-sight of an earth station. That means limited connectivity is available at a fixed and inflexible time schedule based on the particular LEO satellite’s orbit and the geographic location of the earth station.
IDRS technology enables LEO satellite operators to relay two-way IP signals between the LEOsats and Inmarsat’s I-4 geostationary satellites which run its Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN). That will enable LEO constellation operators to have around-the-clock command and control of their satellites in real time, so they can rapidly respond to customer requirements and to operational anomalies in their fleet.
The master service agreement will make IDRS available to targeted commercial LEO customers globally. Addvalue and Inmarsat will work together to take the IDRS service to market, with Addvalue providing the IDRS flight hardware to be carried on board the LEO satellites and serving as the distributor of IDRS airtime to LEO satellite operators.
The service agreement is a follow-through of a signed Memorandum of Understanding announced by Addvalue in February 2017.
According to Space News, the IDRS service won’t be targeting massive LEO constellation projects such as OneWeb because of the massive amount of data required. IDRS is more suitable for scientific, weather forecasting, earth observation and imaging missions using anywhere from three to seven LEOsats.