The laser terminal was built by TESAT-Spacecom, an Airbus subsidiary, and funded by the DLR German Aerospace Center. The European Commission is the first Customer of the SpaceDataHighway. The Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites of Copernicus, the European Commission's Earth observation programme, are equipped with laser communication terminals that will significantly accelerate the delivery of large volumes of time-critical data to Earth monitoring centres within Europe. SpaceDataHighway represents a step change in the speed of space communications. Ultra-broadband laser communications and the geostationary orbit of the relay satellites combine to deliver a unique, secure, near real time data transfer service, making data latency a thing of the past.
EDRS-A, the first relay satellite for the SpaceDataHighway programme was launched on 30 January 2016. Positioned at 9° East, this first communication node offers coverage from the American East Coast until India. EDRS-C was launched in 2019 and is the second satellite and will extend the coverage, capacity and redundancy of the system, positioned at 31° East.
The SpaceDataHighway will provide data transmission in broadband quality in near-real time through high-precision laser. This makes it ideal:
- to transfer time-critical and sensitive information, thus increasing a mission’s staying power and data acquisition capability
- to gain faster and longer access to your air and space assets
- to securely transfer information in hostile electronic warfare environment
- to facilitate Near-Real-Time (NRT) data delivery, minimizing latency of mission critical data collected beyond line of sight
- to support the transfer of large volumes of data generated by powerful sensors or to enable Combat Cloud concept
Thanks to the laser technology developed by TESAT-Spacecom and DLR, the SpaceDataHighway can transfer high-volume data from Earth observation satellites, airborne platforms, or even from the International Space Station at a data rate of 1.8 gbps and can transmit up to 40 terabytes per day.