ESA to expand satellite optical comms network

By on 19 May, 2023

Image courtesy Baader

Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) has been awarded a €2.26 million contract by the European Space Agency, with the support of the Swedish National Space Agency, under its ARTES Scylight program for the second phase of the NODES optical communication project.

The contract will support the implementation, test and demonstration of an optical network, to be carried out during 2023–25, including the commissioning of a second optical ground station in the network.

The first NODES optical ground station will be delivered by Cailabs and installed at the SSC site in Western Australia later this year.

The NODES project (Network of Optical stations for Data transfer to Earth from Space) is set to develop a direct-to-Earth data reception service based on free-space optical communication.

The goal is to develop and demonstrate a highly automated data reception service based on optical communication with at least two optical ground stations. More ground stations will be added to the global network to provide a full data service once the concept is proven.

“Free-space laser communication is a promising future technology which aims to solve the data transfer limitations from space to ground in a secure and power-efficient way,” said Hanna Sundberg, SSC Lead System Architect Optical Communications and Project Manager for the NODES project.

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