The Airbus’ SpaceDataHighway – developed with the support of ESA – provides broadband connectivity services between the International Space Station and the Earth.
With the Columbus Ka-band (ColKa) terminal now installed and fully tested on-board the ISS, a SpaceDataHighway satellite will start to relay data via a bi-directional link in real time between the ISS Columbus Laboratory and the Columbus Control Centre located at the German Aerospace Center DLR near Munich as well as research centres across Europe.
Thanks to the SpaceDataHighway and the ColKa terminal, ESA will benefit from a direct and sovereign access to the ISS, thus increasing the operational flexibility allowing more astronauts, scientists and researchers to benefit from a direct link with Europe. This will also enable ESA to create slots for ad-hoc experiment access and interaction with European astronauts.
The ColKa data service provision has been contracted between ESA and Airbus. As part of this new SpaceDataHighway service, Airbus has adapted its Ka-band inter-satellite link to ensure data will be channelled via the ground station at Harwell Campus, UK.
Besides this Ka-band service, the SpaceDataHighway is the world’s first laser communication geostationary constellation. It represents a game changer in the speed of space communications, using cutting-edge laser technology to deliver secure data transfer services in near-real time. The system has achieved more than 50,000 successful laser connections within the first five years of routine operations.
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