- Satellite Evolution
SSC awarded 2.26M€ contract by ESA for second phase of the optical ground network initiative NODES
Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) has been awarded a 2.26M€ contract by the European Space Agency (ESA), with the support of the Swedish National Space Agency, under its ARTES Scylight programme for the second phase of the optical communication project NODES. This contract will support the implementation, test and demonstration of an optical network, to be carried out during 2023-2025, including the commissioning of a second optical ground station in the network.
The NODES project (Network of Optical stations for Data transfer to Earth from Space) is set to develop a direct-to-Earth data reception service based on free-space optical communication. The activity was initiated in 2022 and since then has passed two significant milestones. The System Requirements Review was achieved in October 2022, and the Preliminary Design Review was successfully completed at the end of March 2023. The first optical ground station of NODES will be delivered by Cailabs and installed at the SSC site in Western Australia (WASC) later this year.
The ambitious goal of NODES is to develop and demonstrate a highly automated data reception service based on optical communication with at least two optical ground stations. Additional optical ground stations will be added to the global network to provide a full optical data service when the concept is proven.
SSC has recently been awarded a contract of further support from ESA for the continuation of the project with two additional development phases. This includes the implementation, testing, verification and demonstration of the future service, as well as the commissioning of a second optical ground station in the network, which will be installed at a different SSC site towards the end of 2024.
“Free-space laser communication is a promising future technology which aims to solve the data transfer limitations from space to ground in a secure and power-efficient way. We are delighted and grateful for ESA’s continued support and quality assurance towards a realisation of this capability through the NODES project,” says Hanna Sundberg, SSC Lead System Architect Optical Communications and Project Manager for the NODES project.