Addvalue Technologies, a Singapore-based company, has signed an official agreement with Inmarsat to offer the world’s first on-demand commercial communications service for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.
Known as the Inter-Satellite Data Relay Service (IDRS), the service will allow LEO satellites to communicate with ground stations 24/7, in near real-time. Such a service is of particular benefit to global LEO satellite operators, especially those involved in weather forecasting, Earth Observation (EO), imaging, and scientific experiments, who need a constant data feed.
Currently, communications links via LEO satellites are extremely limited as they are contingent upon a satellite being within the line-of-sight of a ground station. This makes communications dependent on the number and geographical location of ground stations, hindering the ability to provide real-time data.
With IDRS, however, LEO satellite operators will be able to access near real-time data. This will be achieved through using Addvalue’s space-based IDRS terminals and Inmarsat’s Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) consisting of small satellite terminals that point towards Inmarsat’s geostationary satellites.
Under the agreement, Addvalue will offer its IDRS hardware to be placed aboard LEO satellites. This will create a communications link between the LEO satellites and Inmarsat’s geostationary satellites, which will be continuous and unbroken. The data received by Inmarsat’s satellites will then be fed to the BGAN terminals.
Addvalue and Inmarsat believe that this will increase operational efficiency and profitability of LEO satellites, enabling LEO satellite operators to quickly respond to customers’ needs and address anomalies.
The IDRS partnership between Addvalue and Inmarsat was established in February 2017, when the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Prior to this, Addvalue had conducted in-orbit testing of its IDRS terminal for a year, having launched it aboard the Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) Vertox-II satellite in 2015.
Said Dr Colin Chan, Chairman and CEO of Addvalue, “We are delighted that our years of hard work have resulted in our partnering with Inmarsat to offer this communications service. Catering to the fast growing LEO satellite market is an exciting business opportunity for us”.