Airbus reports that the SpaceDataHighway data relay system has now achieved 10,000 successful connections and 99.8% reliability.
The SpaceDataHighway system – using the EDRS-A relay satellite launched in 2016 – has achieved 10,000 successful laser connections. According to Airbus, the reliability rate has reached 99.8%, and during the first one and a half years of routine operations more than 500 terabytes of data have been downloaded.
The SpaceDataHighway is a public-private partnership between the European Space Agency and Airbus, which today owns and operates the system, with the laser communication terminals developed by Tesat-Spacecom and the DLR German Space Administration.
The satellite locks on to low-orbiting satellites via laser and collects their data as they scan the Earth. From its position in geostationary orbit, the SpaceDataHighway acts as a relay, transmitting the large quantities of data acquired by these observation satellites down to Earth in near-real time at a speed of 1.8 Gbit/s.
The establishment of the laser connections is controlled by the SpaceDataHighway’s Mission Operation Centre which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Airbus premises near Munich.
After a year of ramp-up in 2017, the system is now achieving more than 1,000 connections per month. Each day, the SpaceDataHighway can relay to ground stations up to 40 terabytes of data. It is currently used by the European Union’s Copernicus programme.
In 2019, the system will also relay information from the Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS). From 2020 the Pleiades Neo satellites will begin to use the SpaceDataHighway.
EDRS-A offers coverage from the American East Coast to India. A second satellite, EDRS-C, will be launched in 2019, doubling capacity and extending coverage and redundancy. Airbus intends to add a third node, ERDS-D, to be positioned over the Asia-Pacific region.