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October 2, 2014

International Space Station gets British comms equipment

Data relay terminal cuts Euro module's dependence on NASA.

By Ben Sullivan

UK-made communications technology is to be used on the International Space Station following the UK Space Agency’s recent investment in the orbiting scientific lab.

The UK subsidiary of communications firm MDA has won the first phase of a contract to equip the European module of the ISS with a data relay terminal, a contract set to be worth €14m.

MDA’s VP of IT said: "We would like to recognise the support this commercial data relay program received from the UK Space Agency, the European Space Agency, and our industry partners."

European astronauts onboard the ISS currently rely on the NASA communications infrastructure to relay important information between the European Columbus module and ground stations.

When MDA’s ‘Ka band data relay terminal’ is installed the European astronauts and scientists will get access to higher bandwidth communications and faster delivery of scientific data and high definition video imagery by using the European Data Relay System (EDRS).

The EU spacefarers will also no longer be completely dependent on the NASA-owned communications systems.

Dr Chris Castelli, director of programmes at the UK Space Agency, said: "This contract to the UK is an excellent example of how our strategic investment in Europe’s space programme is securing major contracts for our space industry and bringing cutting edge UK-built technology to huge international endeavours such as the International Space Station."

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