Global aviation company Airbus has successfully launched the EDRS-C satellite.
The satellite is the second node of the SpaceDataHighway network which will transform the way that information is transmitted globally.
The recently launched satellite is part of the European Data Relay System (EDRS), which is the first optical fibre network in the sky, based on laser technology.
The geostationary satellites are fixed over a network of ground stations which transmit data at a rate of 1.8 Gbit/s. So far, 1 petabyte of data has been transferred over 20,000 laser connections, with a reliability rate of 99.5 per cent.
The SpaceDataHighway can relay data collected by observational satellites to Earth in real time, instead of the 90 minutes the process normally takes. This increase in speed also allows for greater quantities of images and videos to be transferred, as well as the reprogramming of satellites.
“The SpaceDataHighway makes our data connections more secure, more stable, more reliable, with more bandwidth and in near real time. The launch of our second satellite is just the start, laser communication will be a revolution for many industries,” said Evert Dudok, head of communications, intelligence & security at Airbus Defence and Space.
Users of the system will not only include satellites, but also aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and helicopters. Connections can be made via air-to-ground, ground-to-air, and -air-to-air links.
Although still in the testing phase, there are plans for a third node to be positioned over the Asia-Pacific by 2024. In 2021, the Pleiades Neo Earth observation satellites will use the Space Data highway to transmit their data to earth. Broadband connections are also planned for the Columbus module if the International Space Station (ISS).
The project is a public-private partnership between Airbus and the European Space Agency (ESA).