‘SpaceDataHighway’ Ready for Service
The second node in the most sophisticated laser communication network ever designed is ready to go into service.
Dubbed the ‘SpaceDataHighway,’ the European Data Relay System (EDRS) helps Earth-observing satellites to transmit large volumes of potentially life-saving data to Europe in near-real time, rather than the traditional 90 mins or more associated with alternative solutions. Its second satellite, EDRS-C, has now completed its in-orbit commissioning review and is ready to start service.
Launched on 6 August 2019, EDRS-C has since manoeuvred into its geostationary orbit at an altitude of some 36,000km, where it has been thoroughly tested during the past six months. This geostationary position enables the satellite to maintain an almost constant connection with Earth-observation satellites closer to the surface and circle the Earth every 90 minutes or so.
The in-orbit commissioning review demonstrated that all EDRS-C systems perform well and that the satellite can link with SENTINEL 2B, one of the Earth-observation satellites from the EU’s COPERNICUS programme. EDRS-C is now being tested with all four SENTINEL satellites ahead of its user commissioning review, due to take place in a few weeks.
Following the user commissioning review, EDRS-C will join its sister satellite, EDRS-A, as an operational node of the EDRS constellation. The latter was launched in January 2016 and has been providing communications services to the COPERNICUS programme since November that year. EDRS-A is due to relay information from the International Space Station once the required external equipment is installed on the COLUMBUS laboratory.
EDRS is a new, independent European satellite system, and is a Partnership Project between the European Space Agency (ESA) and operator Airbus, as part of ESA’s efforts to federate industry around large-scale programmes, stimulating technology developments to achieve economic benefits.
The EDRS-C satellite platform was built by OHB System in Germany and the laser terminals were developed by Tesat-Spacecom and the DLR German Space Administration.