The Franco-Italian aerospace manufacturer, Thales Alenia, which specialises in the space industry is set to supply the world’s only network of satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) with its industry-leading technology. More specifically, the Optical Inter-Satellite Links ─ which is hailed as the ‘best technology for the next generation of the Galileo Navigation System’, by the European Space Agency. Through the implementation of Thales Alenia’s optical systems, the satellite network will be able to provide global, fine-scale coverage, overland, oceans, and both poles, without compromising the security of data communications.
Telesat, a Canadian satellite services company, is currently developing the network and has commissioned Thales Alenia Space to build its broadband constellation. The network, which will be named Lightspeed, will apparently comprise 298 individual satellites, each weighing roughly 700 kilograms. These satellites will be capable of delivering multiple terabits per second worldwide for secure broadband professional services with low latency and high levels of performance. Ergo, it’ll be incredibly fast.
‘The Optical Inter Satellite Links technology is based on Thales Alenia Space’s product line Space Optical Communications, i.e., OPTEL-C. The more compact OPTEL-µ is another optical communications product from this line. This is particularly good for downloading data from small LEO satellites’, according to Innovation Origins.
Thales Alenia Space Background
Thales Alenia Space is the largest satellite manufacturer in Europe ─ the Swiss branch, which has been commissioned in this particular announcement, opened up five years ago in Zurich, where the company primarily specialises in the development and manufacture of instruments for scientific satellites, but also on optical communication terminals for space applications.
The Swiss Space Sector
When it comes to the European and international space industry, the Swiss sector is becoming increasingly important. Approximately 100 Swiss companies already produce incredibly sophisticated pieces of kit and technologies for space missions, and Switzerland also plays host to the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre, which was established back in 2016 in an effort to help entrepreneurs ‘realise their innovative ideas and transfer technologies from space to Earth and from Earth to space.’