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SSC awarded €1.1 million optical ground network contract by ESA

Esrange Antenna. Credit: SSC

Paris, 19 September, 2022. – Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) has been awarded a €1.1 million contract by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Scylight program to support the development of the optical communication project NODES (Network of Optical stations for Data transfer to Earth from Space), SSC said. The company aims to legitimize the ground segment for the optical communication market. 

SSC has already placed an order with French deep tech firm Cailabs, for a first ground station. According to plans, the Western Australian ground station site will begin trials in early 2024. SSC’s ambition is to “offer industry-leading optical ground network services to our current and future customers.” 

The optical direct-to-Earth communications market is expected to grow significantly in the next few years. This growth is supported by the more and more advanced space laser communication technology. The space industry is moving towards higher data transfer frequencies, increasing the bandwidth and data rates to mitigate current data limitations. 

This shift is expected to result in increased security and protection against electromagnetic interference. The spacecraft are expected to be reduced in size and weight with less power consumption. Once the initial concept is successfully demonstrated, additional optical ground stations will be added to the global network.

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