Backnang, 21.02.2018: Exactly ten years ago on 21st February, 2008, a government-to-government cooperation between the United States and Germany to establish a laser link between two operational satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) started a new chapter in the history of space. The German radar satellite TerraSAR-X and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency satellite NFIRE, both equipped with Laser Communication Terminals (LCT) manufactured by Tesat-Spacecom, established the first successful and stable orbital laser link.
The anniversary terminal “LCT 135” makes it possible to send up to 1.8 Gbps of data and information over a distance of up to 80,000 km, fast, secure and totally interference-resistant – even when both satellites drift away from each other in different orbits at absolute orbital speeds of around 30,000 kilometres per hour.
Tesat's LCTs are the key technology behind Airbus’s SpaceDataHighway that provides near-real-time data transmission to any location worldwide. This system of two geostationary satellites is used to relay data between Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, spacecrafts or airborne platforms and fixed ground stations. Thus Tesat-Spacecom‘s technology enables near-real time data provision in support of time-critical and data-intensive applications such as for emergency response actions following natural disasters. Another exemplary application area is in the support of global maritime surveillance activities as in the upcoming Pléiades Neo Constellation of Airbus, which also will utilise the SpaceDataHighway to ensure highest system reactivity, lowest latency and high volume data transfer.
Building on more than 30 years of experience in developing and improving laser communications technology, experts at Tesat are developing smaller, smarter and more versatile solutions for a variety of new application areas. These include dedicated LCTs for LEO applications, for large satellite constellations, and also for CubeSats – small cube-shaped Earth observation or scientific satellites. Common to all terminals is the approach to reduce size, weight and cost, while maintaining functionality.
According to Andreas Hammer, CEO of Tesat, the company “is well prepared for the future, as well as its changing and re-evolving markets. Tesat has ever since been world-leading in the sector of laser technology and exceedingly adaptable when it comes to developing new laser terminals for upcoming use cases and markets.”
At Tesat-Spacecom in Backnang, around 1,100 employees develop, manufacture and distribute systems and equipment for telecommunications via satellite. The product range spans from smallest space-specific components to modules, entire assemblies or payloads. As world's only provider and technology leader in optical terminals for data transmission via laser (LCTs), Tesat has a focus on commercial and institutional space programs. In 2016 it generated sales of € 319 million, while to date well over 700 space projects have been carried out.
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