Described as 'one of the most ambitious and forward-looking communication systems in operation today'—since November 23rd Airbus has been transmitting large volumes of data in near real-time through space at a rate of 1.8 gigabytes per second based on laser technology.
Airbus doesn't want to be the only one having all of the fun, so to encourage innovation and enlarge the application portfolio Airbus opens the “Enter the SpaceDataHighway” challenge for SMEs, start-ups, entrepreneurs and students who would like to participate with their business ideas for using the “SpaceDataHighway”.
The winning project receives a 75,000 euros investment prize, and will be able to draw on the expertise and support of Airbus Bizlab, the Group’s innovation powerhouse. Airbus Bizlab is a business incubator in which entrepreneurs or start-ups participate in a six-month program. Here the winners will be accompanied by engineers, business development experts or even by coaches to support them in the realization of prototypes, market studies or the launch of a product. The project that comes second will receive a prize of 25,000 euros to launch a crowdfunding campaign on the new SpaceStarters platform that enables space related businesses and start-ups to raise money in order to turn their innovative ideas into a business reality.
The SpaceDataHighway is a unique space communication system combining ultra-broadband laser communications in geostationary orbit to deliver a unique, secure, near real-time data transfer service thereby making data latency a thing of the past. It can help revolutionize a number of areas, including the handling of humanitarian crises, maritime security and environmental protection by receiving satellite imagery in near real-time. The Sentinel satellites of the European Union’s Earth observation program, Copernicus, will be the first to benefit from these next-generation services. The SpaceDataHighway will also be able to connect other platforms such as aircraft, UAVs or the International Space Station.
“In general, space communications are the only way to establish broadband communications between humans and machines, whether they are in urban or remote areas, at sea, in the air or even in space. The SpaceDataHighway is like the first optical fiber in space, but with the added advantage of mobility. Therefore, the scope of possible applications is vast,” said Hughes Boulnois, head of the SpaceDataHighway business at Airbus Defence and Space. “With the generalization of space technologies and the emergence of new stakeholders in the sector, Airbus wants this initiative to engage with and listen to the end-users' market needs and to develop ideas to support this extended space ecosystem.”
This initiative has been launched with the support of the European Commission and the European Space Agency, which, together with Airbus, developed the SpaceDataHighway program as part of a public–private partnership.