With the EDRS program, the European Data Relay System, a private public partnership program between the European Space Agency ESA and Airbus Defence and Space ADS, laser communication has entered the commercial service since November 2016 . Currently four Earth Observation satellites named Sentinels equipped with TESAT Laser Communication Terminals from the Copernicus program of the European Union are served by 40 data relay links per day, already accumulating to more than 31000 links in total. We report on the performance of the systems in space and detail on other activities of Tesat.
With the start of the European Data Relay Service (EDRS) in June 2016, laser communication in space has entered a commercial application. The focus of the EDRS laser communication system is the low latency relay of earth observation (E/O) data from low earth orbiting space crafts. The anchor customers for EDRS in its initial phase are the Sentinel spacecrafts, constantly generating E/O data products in the framework of the European Union´s Copernicus Program. The vast majority of these data are in open access for the general public. Tesat is contracted for trending analysis and in orbit maintenance for the four Sentinel LCTs. The standard data delivery from the Sentinel 1 and Sentinel 2 spacecrafts is via X-band to polar stations and Italy and Spain, however using a LCT-GEO relay creates a “virtual ground station” and enables data transfer were no RF ground station is in the field of view of the space craft.