In June 2005, the thousandth optical communication was performed successfully between the European Space Agency's geostationary technology satellite ARTEMIS and the remote sensing SPOT4 CNES satellite. The SILEX optical data relay link is fully operational since October 2003. This link is used on a daily basis either to have real time pictures from distant areas or to empty the memory of the SPOT4 earth observation satellite.
This important step demonstrates the maturity and reliability of laser technology for free space communications, as all communications were established successfully. This fall, a further step will take place when new optical communications will be established between the ARTEMIS satellite and the OICETS spacecraft of the JAXA agency.
EADS Astrium, in charge of the SILEX program, has designed, integrated and tested both SPOT4 and ARTEMIS optical terminals with the support of more than 20 European subcontractors. EADS Astrium is now developing a new optical demonstrator for the French Defence Agency in the frame of the LOLA (Liaison Optique Laser Aéroportée).program aiming at validating optical links for UAV applications. The first LOLA optical communications between an aircraft and the ARTEMIS satellite will be performed in summer 2006.
EADS Astrium is Europe's leading satellite system specialist. Its activities cover complete civil and military telecommunications and Earth observation systems, science and navigation programmes, and all spacecraft avionics and equipment.
EADS Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS SPACE, which is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems. In 2004 EADS SPACE had a turnover of €2.6 billion and 11,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain.
EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services.
In 2004, EADS generated revenues of €31.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 110,000.