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Successful completion of AmerHis, the first switchboard in space

On 22 November 2006 in Madrid, the European Space Agency, the Spanish Centre for Industrial Technology Development (Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial – CDTI) and Hispasat, a Spanish telecommunications satellite operator, signed an agreement marking the successful completion of the AmerHis system implementation.

The document was signed by Giuseppe Viriglio, ESA’s Director of Telecommunications and Navigation Programmes, Maurici Lucena, Director General of CDTI, and Petra Mateos, President of Hispasat.

AmerHis is an advanced communications system which works as if it was a switchboard in space: it is based around an on-board processor carried by Hispasat’s Amazonas satellite. This processor has the capacity to decode incoming signals from the satellite’s four transponders, switch data streams between transponders, and encode them for retransmission. Each transponder covers one of the four geographical regions served by the satellite, namely: Europe, Brazil, and North and South America.

Thanks to AmerHis, Hispasat is able to offer broadband interconnectivity to users anywhere within the four geographical areas covered by Amazonas, with highly efficient usage of the communications capacity. It also allows Hispasat to differentiate its portfolio of services from those of its competitors and to position itself as one of the most advanced satellite operators on either side of the Atlantic.

Under the terms of an agreement made between ESA, CDTI and Hispasat S.A., ESA funded and managed a contract for the implementation of the on-board processor and its complementary terrestrial infrastructure and terminals – collectively known as the ‘AmerHis System’. The main funding for AmerHis was provided from the Spanish contribution to ESA’s ARTES Programme, with additional support from France, Norway and Canada.

CDTI has implemented activities in support of AmerHis in the context of the Spanish National Space Programme. They will continue to support evolutions of and improvements to the system during its operational life.

The industrial consortium was led by Alcatel Espacio (Spain), who were also responsible for development of the on-board processor. The Amazonas satellite was launched on 5 August 2004 and the payload has been successfully subjected to extensive in-orbit testing.

The AmerHis ground segment, comprising the Network Control Centre (NCC), the satellite gateways and the user terminals, has been operational since April 2005. Final acceptance of the ground segment took place on 14 July 2006 and it has been operated by Hispasat since that date. A new era is starting for AmerHis – its commercial life with the first Spanish operator.

Dominique Detain | alfa
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