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Cablegate: German Firm Infoterra Eyeing Next Sar-Lupe

VZCZCXRO6822
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDF RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
RUEHTM
DE RUEHRL #1575/01 3261605
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211605Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2704
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHRL/USDAO BERLIN GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BERLIN 001575

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS
STATE FOR EUR/CE, EUR/ERA AND OES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TSPA EINV ETRD PGOV PREL PINR GM
SUBJECT: GERMAN FIRM INFOTERRA EYEING NEXT SAR-LUPE
CONTRACT AND FUTURE USG CUSTOMERS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Infoterra, a subsidiary of EADS-Astrium,
believes that their next generation digital synthetic
aperture radar (SAR) technology provides them with a
competitive edge in securing the SAR-Lupe follow-on contract
with the German MOD and are actively pursuing entry into the
USG defense intelligence market. In an October 31 meeting at
the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Infoterra Managing Director,
Joerg Herrmann delivered a tailored briefing to embassy staff
with an underlying message of Infoterra's value to U.S.
customers and their desire to break into the USG market.
During this brief, Herrmann touted his company's solid
financial position, successful Public Private Partnership
(PPP) missions with the German Space Agency (DLR), and their
plans to for the next generation TerraSAR-X2 (TSX-2) -
scheduled for deployment in 2013. Herrmann commented at the
end of his briefing that the USG is a high priority customer
and that although selling data is Infoterra's preference,
they would be willing to sell to the USG a complete
spacecraft capability, including ownership of the data. END
SUMMARY

SOLID FINANCIAL POSITION -> COMMERCIAL FLEXIBILITY
--------------------------------------------- -----
2. (SBU) Infoterra, created in 2001 to prepare and
commercially exploit the TerraSAR-X (TSX-1) mission under a
PPP financial structure, finds itself in a strengthened
financial position without the need for government funding
for future commercial satellite projects. Herrmann stated
that for the first time in Infoterra's seven-year history,
Infoterra will turn a modest profit in 2008. According to
Herrmann, Infoterra's improved financial resources give them
greater control of their data products and satellite tasking.
(Comment: Under the PPP agreement with DLR, DLR had rights
to 50 percent of all TSX-1 data leaving the other 50 percent
available for Infoterra commercial exploitation. End Comment)

INFOTERRA OPTIMISTIC ON THE NEXT SAR-LUPE CONTRACT
--------------------------------------------- -----
3. (SBU) Herrmann was adamant that his company will submit
the superior proposal for the SAR-Lupe follow-on contract and
said "Infoterra will not lose out to OHB again." (Comment:
OHB-System AG is located in Northern Germany and has
successfully deployed and operated Germany's first
satellite-based radar reconnaissance system. End Comment)
Infoterra is likely in the advanced stages of its advanced
TSX-2 design and Hermann expressed confidence that OHB does
not possess comparable technology. The current SAR-Lupe
system (contract awarded to OHB in August 2005 and first
satellite launched in December 2006) has a life expectancy of
10 years. This implies that the follow-on system will likely
need to be deployed by 2017 with the contract awarded in the
2013-2015 timeframe.

DESIGN IMPROVEMENTS: RESOLUTION, COVERAGE, AND THROUGHPUT
--------------------------------------------- ------------
4. (SBU) The next generation TSX-2 will aim for better
imaging resolution, increased coverage area, and larger data
throughput volumes. Current TSX-1 performance parameters are
given below:

RESOLUTION COVERAGE AREA
---------- -------------
-- spotlight mode: 1 m 5 km x 10 km scene
-- stripmap mode: 3 m 30 km swath width
-- scanSAR mode: 16 m 100 km swath width

Herrmann expressed confidence that Infoterra's next SAR
generation will achieve resolutions on the order of 0.5 m in
spotlight mode and 1 m with a 70 km scene width in stripmap
mode, the workhorse mode. Herrmann projects that this
technology will be deployable by 2013.

5. (SBU) In a meeting at DLR on October 27, DLR TSX-1
Project Manager, Rolf Werninghaus, discussed DLR efforts to
develop a High Resolution Wide Swath (HRWS) imaging
capabilities using digital "beamforming" techniques.
Werninghaus stated the desired goal is to collect 1-meter
resolution radar imagery over an area of approximately 100 km
(equivalent to the TSX-1 scanSAR mode). This ambitious plan
is being closely coordinated with Infoterra and could
possibly be implemented with Infoterra's next generation SAR
satellites.

6. (U) The penalty for imaging larger areas with greater
resolution is the need for increased data transmission
bandwidth to the ground station. DLR's innovative approach

BERLIN 00001575 002 OF 002


to this problem is to create a space-based optical Laser
Communication Technology (LCT) data network (Germany awarded
the first LCD contracts to Tesat-Spacecom GmbH at the end of
the 1990s). Infoterra's TSX-1 bus is equipped with a
experimental LCT payload intended to demonstrate high
bandwidth satellite-to-satellite optical communications. In
February 2008, the LCT aboard TSX-1 and NFIRE (a U.S.
experimental satellite) successfully exchanged data covering
a distance of more than 5000 km without any errors, at a
bandwidth of 5.5 Gbit/s (a data equivalence to roughly 400
DVDs per hour). The next step will be to relay TSX-1 data
via LCT from a geosynchronous relay (GEO-Relay) satellite to
a ground station. The first GEO-relay satellite is scheduled
to launch in 2012.

DIGITAL ELEVATION MEASUREMENTS - UNPRECEDENTED ACCURACY
--------------------------------------------- ----------
7. (SBU) - Between September and December of 2009, Infoterra
in a PPP cooperation with DLR will launch TanDEM-X, a nearly
identical twin of TSX-1 with a three-year interferrometry
mission to acquire high quality Digital Elevation Models
(DEM) of the entire Earth. TanDEM-X will operate in
conjunction with TSX-1 to form a tandem constellation,
separated by only 200 m. DLR's stated goal with this program
is to acquire HRTI-3 level data with the following parameters:

Spatial Resolution: 12 m X 12 m
Absolute Horizontal Accuracy: < 10 m
Absolute Vertical Accuracy: < 5 m
Relative Vertical Accuracy: < 0.8 m

This accuracy, if achievable, would likely represent the
highest fidelity global DEM data available and would likely
be of interest to U.S. defense customers.

INFOTERRA SEES OPPORTUNITY KNOCKING WITH USG CUSTOMERS
--------------------------------------------- ---------
8. (SBU) Thus far, foreign satellite data providers have
been unable to break into the U.S. defense market, but an
unclassified July 2008 USAF Space Radar Acquisition Decision
Memorandum (ADM) calling for potential use of international
entities to fill future Warfighter needs may change this.
Specifically, the July ADM calls for action to "Quantify the
performance, capability, and utility of the near-term
available sources of radar data from commercial and
international space systems." In response to this, Herrmann
commented that Infoterra is prepared to sell data directly to
the USG to fill this need and would even be prepared to offer
a complete spacecraft capability, including ownership of the
data. It is believed that Infoterra has already submitted a
proposal in response to this ADM.

GERMANY TO HOST SEMINAR IN WDC ON GERMAN DATA SECURITY LAW
--------------------------------------------- -------------
9. (SBU) On November 24 at the German Embassy in Washington
DC, the German government, in coordination with DLR,
Infoterra GmbH, and RapidEye AG will host a seminar to
discuss scientific, operational, and legal aspects of
Germany's Act on Satellite Data Security law. Clearly, the
implications at this seminar will be centered on future USG
procurement of German sources space-based imagery and the
role German export control restrictions will play.

COMMENT
-------
10. (SBU) Infoterra is clearly advancing its SAR technology
at a rapid pace and their technical cooperation with DLR has
certainty paid dividends fostering this advancement. As
Infoterra's economic position improves, so does its ability
to embark on projects independently without obligations to
the German government. Given the U.S. need for alternative
sources for space-based radar data detailed in the USAF Space
Radar ADM and Infoterra's emergence as a world leader in SAR
technology, Infoterra believes it is well-positioned to
break into the U.S. defense market.
TIMKEN JR

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