In the early morning of June 23 2015, the Earth observation satellite Sentinel-2A was launched on board a Vega launcher from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Sentinel-2A is the second satellite, which was launched into orbit as part of the European environmental monitoring program Copernicus.
Sentinel-2A is equipped with a laser-based communication payload from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which was developed by Tesat. This technology allows the Sentinel-2 satellites to transmit data via laser to geostationary communications satellites of the European Data Relay System EDRS (European Data Relay System), which Airbus Defence and Space is developing for ESA. This new space data highway makes it possible to transmit large amounts of data at high speed to the users to provide information even faster.
"The laser communication makes it possible for low-flying observation satellite to transmit their data to Earth in near real time. Tesat-Spacecom is the first company to offer this new commercially embossed technology, which is a significant advance in the satellite-based earth and environmental monitoring, " said Matthias Motzigemba who was at the start event in the Space Operations Centre of ESA in Darmstadt.
The Copernicus program is an operative community project under the leadership of the European Commission in cooperation with the European Space Agency. The Sentinel satellites ("Guardian") of the Copernicus program provide remote sensing data for critical services in the fields of environment and safety.
The Sentinel-2 mission consists of two identical satellites, which are offset by 180 degrees positioned in a constellation in the same orbit, in order to ensure optimal coverage and data delivery. The two satellites will orbit the earth in 100 minutes and cover the whole land surface of the earth, all the major islands and inland and coastal waters every five days.
The launch of the identical Sentinel-2B is scheduled for mid 2016. The Sentinel-2 mission is realized in close cooperation between ESA, the European Commission, industry, service providers and data users.
The Laser Communication Terminal (LCT) was funded by the Space Agency of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) with funds from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) and tasked with developing is Tesat-Spacecom.