European Space Agency and Airbus are testing LASER data networks in space.

spacelaserThe European Space Agency (ESA) has partnered with AIRBUS Defense and Space to send data between satellites using lasers. This data transmission was a proof-of-concept in what they are calling the “SpaceDataHighway”.  This is a significant undertaking as most satellites are good at a number of jobs, but lack the stationary orbit to send data to earth. A satellite in orbit must wait till it is in range of a ground station in order to send information which causes quite the delay. Some satellites like the Alphasat are in a geostationary orbit and are always connected to their ground stations. By using a laser to send data from one satellite to a geostationary one transmission time can be cut significantly, which is handy when near-real-time data is needed.

During the ESA and AIRBUS test speeds of 0.6 Gigabits per second of a possible 1.8 Gigabits per second over 45,000km.

This technology can be used for a number of tasks. One application might be to help ground crews safely save lives during a disaster, and we have lasers to thank  for their part.