Aerospace & Defence

'Worlds first' high speed laser communication satellite

21st January 2016
Jordan Mulcare

Via EDRS-A and EDRS-C communication relay satellites, the SpaceDataHighway will be able to transfer information (images, video, data collected by sensors) from Earth observation satellites, UAVs and surveillance aircraft, or even from a space station such as the ISS.

Thanks to the very high data rate laser communication (up to 1.8Gb/s) and the geostationary orbit positioning of the relay satellites, these volumes of Big Data (up to 50Tb per day) will be received in near-real-time on Earth. Once that has been completed the operational phase starts where we will provide service for the Sentinel 1 and 2A satellites with up to 30 optical links per day. The system itself is capable of delivering 200 optical and 200 Ka-band links per day.

The European Data Relay System will provide encrypted data transmission in broadband quality in near-real time. This makes it suitable for relaying time-critical and sensitive information. Emergency response teams and security services can use EDRS to gain much faster access to Earth observation satellite data – even when in the field, when time is of the essence. Applications will be: Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), maritime surveillance, environment monitoring and agriculture, natural disaster and emergency response and weather forecasting.

As the owner and operator of the SpaceDataHighway, Airbus Defence and Space is targeting a global deployment, offering opportunities for international partnerships. Pacific Rim Area is where we see an increasing needs for data relay and airborne missions. We are aiming to expand the capacity and coverage of the system by 2020, with a third satellite positioned over the Asia-Pacific region.

The EDRS-SpaceDataHighway is a public–private partnership between ESA (European Space Agency) and Airbus Defence and Space. The laser terminal was built by TESAT-Spacecom, an Airbus Defence and Space subsidiary and funded by the DLR German Aerospace Center.

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