Once upon a time, there were space lasers in Disney movies, in James Bond films, and a whole slew of other cases involving fighting enemies, shrinking people, and spy games for example.

Not one involved using invisible lasers to move data.  Starting at 10G per second. 

Fast-forward to 2023, and here we are - a real-life, true story partnership combining space-tech innovation from a grassroots start-up (Xenesis) with a long-standing forward thinking company (Airbus Defence and Space) ready to bring to space a new means of broadband communication.

This partnership story started approximately 5 years ago, in 2018, when Xenesis was founded. Originating as an idea to better track airplanes …the application quickly expanded to accelerating data connections across the globe wherever speed of information delivery matters. 

With that, as the conversations evolved between Airbus and Xenesis, it became clear that this technology could be immediately beneficial and impactful on an international scale.  Enter: the International Space Station (ISS). 

Now, Airbus has selected Xenesis to be the sole service provider for laser-optic telecommunications on the Airbus-funded Bartolomeo platform attached to the side of the ISS.

To begin service in 2025, this high speed data connection, estimating to move a minimum of 2 Terabytes of data per day (roughly the content of 2 million paperback books*), in concert with 7 strategically selected ground-stations, averaging 30 milliseconds or less in latency, will be a true enabler for sophisticated Bartolomeo use cases including, for example:

  • Moving complex DNA strand-detail, also known as the building blocks of DNA, for research and advancement of healthcare: From capillary experiments to zero-gravity growth tests, results are pouring in at high speed in space but take time to reach science labs on Earth. With the Xenesis laser connection, results can be delivered to Earth in real time. This level of speed will be a gamechanger compared to the current average 600 Mb/second data transfer rate on the ISS which today means that results are delivered piecemeal in separate data packages over a number of weeks that then need recompiling on Earth.
  • University and other student test-studies: Biology, materials science and astronomy are the main areas of research. Bartolomeo will enable scientists to receive complete result-sets, with optional priority real-time data transfer, while also leveraging store-and-forward technology.
  • Government proof-of-concepts: With secure access to critical data in real time, Bartolomeo facilitates research on international and national projects mainly in the environmental and defense fields. Thanks to real-time data, decision-making will be accelerated.
  • Earth observation: from the tracking of weather patterns, to crop management, forecasting and planning, or even carbon emissions outputs; observing our planet with accurate and complete data in a timely manner will allow further enhancements to and optimization of daily life. 

And that’s just the beginning.  In the future, laser-optic telecommunications from the ISS may support a variety of commercial and international customers working with complex data sets such as entertainment, sports, or gaming, or even facilitate edge-node computing to other stations supporting humans living and working in Lower Earth Orbit. 

How is this achieved? Security, efficiency and speed of data movement.  Essential building blocks for advancing humanity.

See, lasers in space aren’t just for James Bond!  Learn more about Bartolomeo here