N° 19-1993

Users of ESA's Olympus satellite report on the outcome of their experiments

22 April 1993

"Today Europe's space telecommunications sector would not be blossoming as it now does, had OLYMPUS not provided a testbed for the technologies and services of the 1990s". This summarises the general conclusions of 135 speakers and 300 participants at the Conference on Olympus Utilisation held in Seville on 20-22-April 1993. The conference was organised by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Spanish Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI).

OLYMPUS has been particularly useful :

  • - in bringing satellite telecommunications to thousands of new users, thanks to satellite terminals with very small antennas (VSATs). OLYMPUS experiments have tested data transmission, videoconferencing, business television, distance teaching and rural telephony, to give but a few examples.
  • - in opening the door to new telecommunications services which could not be accommodated on the crowded lower- frequency bands; OLYMPUS was the first satellite over Europe to offer capacity in the 20/30 GHz band.
  • - in establishing two-way data relay links 1/2 OLYMPUS received for the first time in Europe, over several months, high-volume data from a low-Earth orbiting spacecraft and then distributed it to various centres in Europe.

    When OLYMPUS was launched on 12 July 1989 it was the world's largest telecommunications satellite; and no other satellite has yet equalled its versatility in combining four different payloads in a wide variety of frequency bands. OLYMPUS users range from individual experimenters to some of the world's largest businesses. Access to the satellite is given in order to test new telecommunications techniques or services; over the past four years some 200 companies and organisations made use of this opportunity, as well as over 100 members of the EUROSTEP distance-learning organisation.

    As the new technologies and services tested by these OLYMPUS users enter the commercial market, they then make use of operational satellites such as those of EUTELSAT.

    OLYMPUS utilisation will continue through 1993 and 1994, when the spacecraft will run out of fuel as it approaches the end of its design life.

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