Special Purpose Orbital Laser Data Transmission

Is already in space the first European Network of satellite data Relay. The EDRS system (European Data Relay System) is also being called the spatial data. And he will be just that: a form of laser data connection that will be used between satellites.Today, the low-orbit satellites, including Earth observation, capture your information quickly and continuously, but can only transmit the data to the ground when they’re passing on an antenna capable of receiving them.

This means that you can take from minutes to a few hours for an image of a natural disaster, for example, gets to the hands of those who need the information-most observation satellites of the Earth completes an orbit every 90 minutes, but has only a 10-minute window to transmit your data for a given station on Earth.

Special Purpose Orbital Laser Data Transmission
Special Purpose Orbital Laser Data Transmission (ESA Project)

The same happens with the International Space Station, with unmanned aircraft and military and espionage satellites, that will have their connections with the earth moving from Flash to almost-continuous, without relying on antennas installed in countries outside Europe.

The goal of the spatial data is to create a connection of these laser satellites with a satellite located in a geostationary orbit well higher, that will always have an antenna on the ground in your field of vision.

Thus, the data will arrive on earth almost instantly.

The space laser communication links are bidirectional transmission speed of 1.8 Gbit per second. The satellites that will swap laser data may be up to 45000 km away from each other. The lasers operate with non-visible light, with a wavelength of 1064 nm, so already in the infrared band. Despite the precision and speed, the outfit as a whole is small, measuring 60 x 60 x 70 cm, weighing only 53 kg and consuming 160 watts of power. This should facilitate its installation on commercial satellites and other vehicles.

When in full operation, the EDRS will relay to 50 terabytes of data from space daily to the soil.

Alphasat's LCT in action

In the already approved the project, the EDRS system will have three satellites strategically positioned so that any satellite, located at any position of the orbit of the Earth, have always in your line of sight a network capable of receiving satellite transmissions.

The three satellites, in turn, will always be with antennas on the ground in your line of sight, where relay the data by a normal connection.

The first satellite from the EDRS, Space-A, was released last Friday, and is expected to start operating from the middle of the year, after completing the initial tests. The next is expected to be launched in 2018.

According to the European Space Agency (ESA), the “EDRS is a unique system and the most ambitious telecommunications programme ever made until today, creating the means for the emergence of a completely new market in commercial communications by satellite”.