Second SpaceDataHighway satellite successfully launched

August 7th, 2019, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: PositionIT, Featured: EE Publishers, Featured: PositionIT

The EDRS-C satellite, the second node of the SpaceDataHighway network (also known as the European Data Relay System (EDRS)), has been successfully launched into geostationary orbit at 31° East. After testing, it will double transmission capacity of the system in order to serve two observation satellites simultaneously and provide redundant back-up for the SpaceDataHighway.

This second satellite is joining EDRS-A which transmits on a daily basis the images of earth acquired by the Copernicus programme’s four Sentinel observation satellites. Since it entered service in late 2016, it has achieved more than 20 000 laser connections. The reliability rate has reached 99,5%, and these successful connections have downloaded more than 1 petabyte of data. Full operations including EDRS-C are expected by the end of 2019, when its inter-satellite link and end-to-end service will be tested and commissioned with the Sentinel satellites.

The SpaceDataHighway is the equivalent of an “optical fibre” network in space, based on cutting-edge laser technology. It is a network of geostationary satellites permanently fixed over a network of ground stations that can transmit data at a rate of 1,8 Gbit/s.

These communication satellites can connect to low-orbiting observation satellites, intelligence UAVs or mission aircraft at a distance up to 45 000 km, via laser. From its position in geostationary orbit, the system relays data collected by observation satellites to earth in near-real-time, a process that would normally take around 90 minutes. It thus enables the quantity of image and video data transmitted by observation satellites to be tripled and their mission plan to be reprogrammed at any time and in just a few minutes.

The EDRS uses laser links for high speed communication and data transmission.

A third communication node is to be positioned over the Asia-Pacific region by around 2024. Equipped with three laser terminals, EDRS-D will significantly increase the system’s communication capacity and considerably expand its coverage.

From 2021, the Pleiades Neo Earth observation satellites will begin to use the system. By the end of 2019, the system will also provide a fully European broadband communication service to the Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS).

Contact Corné Eloff, Airbus Defence and Space, Tel 011 266-2614, corne.eloff@airbus.com

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