European Union External Action

Live event: European Data Relay System - Connecting Europe and Asia

10/07/2019 - 15:59
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On Wednesday 10th July, the European External Action Service hosts a live demo of the 'Space data highway' capability through a real-time link with the EU Delegation in Tokyo. The European Data Relay System (EDRS) or 'Space data highway', which has benefited from EU funding, is the world’s first laser-link in the sky, based on cutting-edge laser technology from Europe. It allows transferring large volume of data, notably images, from other satellites in space to the Earth in quasi real-time.

This system is a public–private partnership between Airbus, the European Space Agency and the European Commission, with the Copernicus system being its first long-term customer. In the framework of the Europe-Asia connectivity strategy and as part of the EU’s efforts to promote European technological excellence around the world, this event represents the beginning of a new era for space-based imagery users - and in the near future for a secured airborne connectivity. The live demo image has been held simultaneously between the European Maritime Safety Agency in Lisbon, the EEAS HQ in Brussels and the EU Delegation in Tokyo.

How does the EDRS system work?

Two Copernicus Sentinel satellites in the low Earth orbit are equipped with this revolutionary laser transmission system which beams up a signal to the EDRS satellites parked thousands kilometres away in a geostationary orbit.

The system is so accurate that it guarantees to transfer up to 1,8 Gbps of data from different space platforms by pointing the laser beam to the target of the size of a small plate while the observation satellite is moving during a prolonged period of time. This is particularly important in an emergency situations when gathering information is critical for lunching an adequate crisis response.

In the future EDRS will be able to connect astronauts on board of the International Space Station or the future Moon settlements. EDRS is also preparing the future of human deep space exploration 50th years after Apollo 11 mission.

EDRS a key tool for modern and secure data in space transmission satisfying the needs for modern space infrastructure, for civil and defence purposes.