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MDA to Design Optical Comms Payload for Airbus

By | February 23, 2018
Artist rendition of the SpaceDataHighway. Photo: Airbus.

Artist rendition of the SpaceDataHighway. Photo: Airbus.

MDA announced that it has signed a contract valued at approximately CA$4 million ($3.1 million) with Airbus for design studies dedicated to the optical data relay payload of the third SpaceDataHighway satellite. During this phase, MDA will define the preliminary design of the European Data Relay Satellite System-D (EDRS-D) optical data relay payload. MDA will assess advanced technology, and define innovative solutions to equip the EDRS-D optical data relay payload with enhanced capacity, security, and flexibility.

According to MDA, the EDRS-D payload will increase the speed and availability of secure and high data-rate communications from and to Earth Observation (EO) satellites, manned or unmanned aircraft, in addition to providing in-orbit connectivity to other existing relay satellites of the SpaceDataHighway, also known as EDRS, at distances of up to 75,000 km. Tesat Spacecom will manufacture these new Laser Communication Terminals (LCT).

As of 2019, the EDRS-D node will move to the final two phases of build and delivery and will expand the SpaceDataHighway with its position over the Asia-Pacific region.

The current SpaceDataHighway system was developed through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus. Each day, it can transfer up to 40 terabytes of data acquired by observation satellites, manned or unmanned aircrafts, at a rate of 1.8 Gbps.

MDA previously announced contract awards for communication subsystems for EDRS-A, the SpaceDataHighway’s first communication node, which entered operational service in November 2016, and the second node EDRS-C, which is planned for launch at the end of 2018.

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