Space

First high speed laser communication satellite set for launch

First high speed laser communi...
Lasers at the ready: An artist's impression of the EDRS, aka the SpaceDataHighway
Lasers at the ready: An artist's impression of the EDRS, aka the SpaceDataHighway
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Diagram of the EDRS
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Diagram of the EDRS
Lasers at the ready: An artist's impression of the EDRS, aka the SpaceDataHighway
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Lasers at the ready: An artist's impression of the EDRS, aka the SpaceDataHighway
The EDRS will link satellites and aircraft
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The EDRS will link satellites and aircraft
Artist's impression of the EDRS system
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Artist's impression of the EDRS system

Space-based laser communications are moving out of the testing phase and into orbit as the first satellite in the European DAta Relay System (EDRS), or SpaceDataHighway, prepares for launch at the end of January. Likened to having a fiber optic cable in space, the 1.8 Gigabit per second system is a joint public–private partnership between Airbus Defence and Space and ESA that will act as a relay system between ground stations, satellites, and aircraft.

EDRS-A, the first relay satellite, will launch into geostationary orbit on January 28 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, atop a Proton rocket. Once in geosynchronous orbit over Europe, the satellite will establish laser communication links between with the four Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites of the European Earth observation program Copernicus, UAVs, and ground stations in Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and the US northeast coast.

EDRS-A is a Eurostar E3000 type satellite built by Airbus Defence and Space and operated by Eutelsat. At its heart is the Laser Communication Terminal (LCT) built by Airbus Defence and Space subsidiary Tesat Spacecom at a cost nearly €500 million (US$544 million). The LCT will allow the EDRS to transmit and receive up to 50 terabytes of encrypted data a day in near-real-time.

The system will be used to deliver images, video, and other data from satellites, UAVs, aircraft, and space stations, allowing for faster and more complete communications in the event of a crisis or natural disaster. In addition, the system will be used for Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), maritime surveillance, environment monitoring, agriculture, natural disaster, and weather forecasting.

The EDRS will link satellites and aircraft
The EDRS will link satellites and aircraft

The SpaceDataHighway will be extended by the launch of a second satellite in 2017, followed by a third by 2020, which will deliver global coverage.

The video below outlines the EDRS program.

Source: Airbus Defence and Space

4 comments
HensleyBeuronGarlington
Promising news!
Stephen N Russell
Link Lasercomm to ISS, CRS, SNC DC & other satellites, then relay to Lunar base, then bounce off to Mars. Doable. Wary if hit in space war then all comm lost to Mars colony alone.
Bob Flint
Cloud piercing Lasers?
Knut
Hensley: The transmission capacity has to be wrong, i expect that Alcatel can deliver STM2 up and down as long as the ground station is stationary, and STM1 to moving such as planes. This is the ITU-T standards for fibre, lowest link speed, and Ericsson has delivered link stations with this capacity for more than a decade. The same has this week exhibited with mobile data network with this capacity. STM1 is 2Gbps while STM2 is two STM1 segments.The US promoted "SDN" will be able to hook up to an STM1 segment, the higher - STM256 is managed by OSS, based on ITU-T standards, so SDN must then be made to comply with this standard first. The same with all the US fibre technology. The ITU is the UN body to manage international telecommunication standards, where the US has elected not to comply, and instead use the FCC (US way of doing things) as "standard". To those above, you can take for granted that telecommunication invented abroad cannot interface to national US technologies.