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Second SpaceDataHighway satellite successfully launches on Ariane 5

The EDRS-C satellite, the second node of the SpaceDataHighway network — also known as the European Data Relay System (EDRS) — has successfully launched into geostationary orbit at 31 degrees East by an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana. According to Airbus, after a test period, it will double transmission capacity of the system in order to serve two observation satellites simultaneously and provide redundant back-up for the SpaceDataHighway.

This second satellite is joining EDRS-A, which transmits the images of Earth acquired by the Copernicus program’s four Sentinel observation satellites on a daily basis.

According to Airbus, the SpaceDataHighway is the world’s first “optical fiber” network in the sky based on cutting-edge laser technology. A public-private partnership between the European Space Agency and Airbus, it is a network of geostationary satellites permanently fixed over a network of ground stations that can transmit data at a rate of 1.8 Gbit/s.

SpaceDataHighway satellites can connect to low-orbiting observation satellites at a distance up to 45000 km, intelligence UAVs or mission aircraft via laser, Airbus added. From its position in geostationary orbit, the SpaceDataHighway system relays data collected by observation satellites to Earth in near-real-time.

“The SpaceDataHighway makes our data connections more secure, more stable, more reliable, with more bandwidth and in near real time,” said Evert Dudok, head of communications, intelligence and security at Airbus Defence and Space. “The launch of our second satellite is just the start, laser communication will be a revolution for many industries.”

Full operations, including EDRS-C, are expected by the end of 2019, when its inter-satellite link and end-to-end service will be tested and commissioned with the Sentinel satellites. A third communication node is to be positioned over the Asia-Pacific region by around 2024.

In addition, from 2021, the Pleiades Neo Earth observation satellites will begin to use the SpaceDataHighway, and by the end of 2019, the system will also provide a fully European broadband communication service to the Columbus module of the International Space Station, Airbus said.

Featured photo: Airbus

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