Space Data Highway

Space Data Highway (image from ESA)

Infrastructure aids us in our daily tasks. Usually we think of roads, rail lines and air ports when thinking of aids. Now, space is also getting aids. The European Space Agency has begun a Space Data Highway or European Data Relay System (EDRS). This infrastructure serves to transfer data to and from the Earth to locations high above the earth: like a geosynchronous satellite, the ISS or maybe an orbiter about Mars.  Aside from demonstrating the advancing demands we are placing with our activities in space, this infrastructure demonstrates two other very practical feats.

1)  The Space Data Highway uses lasers to transmit the data. Though NASA demonstrated this principal by sending data to the Moon and back, the EDRS relays between two satellites and between a satellite and the Earth.  Seems simple but just imagine the accuracy needed to maintain a beam of light pointed at a dot that’s 45 000km away! And then keeping the pot of light upon the dot while the satellites changes shape due to thermal flexing. They did it. And the result is a delivery of 1800 Mbit/sec data.

2) The Space Data Highway is funded as a public partner partnership (PPP). Presently two satellites relay data from Europe to and from space. For a planned 15 years. So take the expected data rate, the lifetime and the amortization of the design and development and you can determine the data relay charges. And there are more satellites on the way for the EDRS constellation.

The EDRS enables data sources such as the Copernicus system to download data in near real time to Europe. They also aid space systems by reducing the data demand being placed upon the existing infrastructure, principally the ground stations.

And this EDRS infrastructure is in place through a PPP. Where else can you see PPP emplacing infrastructure?


Dear Fellow Lunar Enthusiasts,

Public-private-partnerships for space are gaining momentum again. With this, both government and private entities can bring their best to a project. The competitive driven private entity ensures that only the best gets built. The government entity ensures that the project risk is reasonably low. While this is a great concept it doesn’t come cheap as p-p-p’s traditionally cost 20 to 40% more. Which means that even more profit is needed from any large infrastructure project such as a habitat on the Moon.

As is the norm these days, profit drives the rationale for most projects. Sometimes an organization’s mission might get blurry when profits drive the organization elsewhere. This is why the Lunar Colony fund is a non-profit organization. We want to stay focused on that critical task of ensuring a space faring species into the future.

And we continue to push out our vision for a future. A future that’s much more than what’s constrained by a video monitor. Do you want to see people exploring again? Do you want your children to have opportunities that exceed keeping a chair warm in a cubicle? If so, join us and together we can make this future happen.

Mark Mortimer

Lunar Colony Fund

What can you imagine here?


Getting the Bucks for Buck Rogers!