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Astronauts to boost European connectivity

Written by  Monday, 18 January 2021 11:27
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International Space Station laboratories seen during spacewalk

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are planning a spacewalk to install a high-speed satellite link that will improve their connections with Europe.

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory
ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory

ColKa will provide speeds of up to 50 Mbit/s for downlink and up to 2 Mbit/s for uplink.

It was designed and built by British and Italian companies, using products from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany and Norway, some of which have been qualified under the ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES).

ColKa will use the infrastructure for the European Data Relay System developed as a telecommunications Partnership Project between ESA and Airbus, as part of ESA’s efforts to federate industry around large-scale programmes, stimulating technology developments to achieve economic benefits.

The know-how gained from designing, building and running ColKa will be instrumental for ESA’s communications package under the ESPRIT communications and refuelling module that is being designed for the lunar Gateway – an outpost over 1000 times farther from Earth than the International Space Station that will provide vital support for a sustainable, long-term human return to the lunar surface.


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