Vega Emerges as European Civil Space Leader Following ESA Sentinel Contract
[Satellite News 11-08-10] Vega has led a consortium of subcontractors to a contract win with the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop and deploy the Core Payload Data Ground Segment (PDGS) for ESA’s Sentinel-3 satellites, Vega announced Nov. 8.
Vega, a Finmeccanica company, and subcontractors ACS, Elsag Datamat and Werum will deploy Sentinel-3 as one of a series of Earth observation satellites under the Global Monitoring of the Environment and Security (GMES) program — a joint initiative between the European Commission (EC) and ESA and implemented and operated in conjunction with Eumetsat. The first Sentinel-3 satellite is scheduled for launch in 2013.
Vega’s Space Director Peter Young told Satellite News that contract is a huge help in the company’s effort to expand its relationship with long-standing clients ESA and Eumetsat. “This program is a critical element within the Sentinel 3 mission. It is also significant as it recognizes Vega capabilities in Earth observation (EO) and positions us as an EO ground segment prime contractor.”
The Core PDGS is responsible for receiving, processing and disseminating to users the data from the Sentinel-3 instruments, ensuring that these Sentinel-3 products meet the expected quality and availability requirements for the mission duration and ensuring long-term Sentinel-3 data preservation and availability to data users and service providers.
According to Young, the consortium faces technical challenges. “With effectively two key customers for this project, it is essential that Vega manages both organizations’ requirements as efficiently as possible. The key technical challenge is the high data processing rates, but Vega fully understands this and has a solution that minimize the risks.”
The project will take 35 months, with preliminary design review scheduled for February. “The development will then follow a phased delivery, with incremental deployment of the system on three sites, Eumetsat, as well as a station and an additional center for processing of land products, which are still to be procured by ESA,” Young said.
Vega also has a key role in the Sentinel 1 PDGS, serving as the prime contractor for the ESA data quality service operating out of the United Kingdom. Vega also supports ESA staff at both the European Space Research and Technology Centre in Holland and the European Space Operations Center in Germany.