The overarching goal of the InfoTerra/TerraSAR Initiative is to establish a self-sustaining operational/commercial business built on Europe’s know-how and experience in space-borne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) technology, in SAR data processing as well as in SAR applications.
InfoTerra stands for a new business concept based on supplying innovative geo-information products and services. TerraSAR is a space and ground system conceived to consist of an initial deployment and operation of 2 Radar satellites (one in X- and one in L-band) flying in a tandem configuration in the same orbit. The design of TerraSAR is driven by the market and is user-oriented. TerraSAR is key to capturing a significant proportion of the existing market and to opening new market opportunities, when it becomes operational.
The InfoTerra/TerraSAR Initiative has evolved gradually. It started in 1997 as a joint venture between German (DSS) and British (MMS-UK) space industry, strongly supported by both space agencies, DLR and BNSC. In early 2001, DLR and BNSC submitted to ESA the Formal Programme Proposal for InfoTerra/TerraSAR to become an essential element of ESA’s Earth Watch Programme.
In summer 2001, when it became evident that there was not yet sufficient support from the ESA Member States to allow
immediate start entering into TerraSAR Phase C/D, it has been decided to implement first a TerraSAR consolidation phase. In early 2002, in order to avoid further delays, a contract was signed between DLR and Astrium GmbH on the development of one component of TerraSAR, the TerraSAR-X, in the frame of a national programme, governed by a Public Private Partnership Agreement.
Even if now the different launch dates for TerraSAR-X and TerraSAR-L are narrowing down the window of common data acquisition, it is a reasonable starting point, but it should always be kept in mind that the utmost goal for the longterm is to achieve self sustainability by supplying geo-information products and services, mainly derived from combining high spatial resolution X-band data with full polarimetric L-band data and thus addressing a broad range of scientific, institutional/governmental and private applications.