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Airbus Netherlands and TNO partner for development of next-generation gigabit optical ground station

09 Nov 2018

At the inaugural event of the new Airbus production facility for space technology, Airbus Netherlands and TNO announced their cooperation for the development of a next-generation optical ground stations in the gigabit range. This is an important step towards the realisation of optical satellite communication. Almost all the data connections in space are based on radio-frequency electromagnetic waves. The new systems for optical satellite communication use laser light to make communications faster, more secure and cheaper.

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Optical communication ground station

Airbus Netherlands and TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, both recognise the large potential that this new market for fast and safe optical satellite communication offers. Based on its heritage in space instrumentation and semiconductor equipment, TNO develops technologies for optical communications terminals. Airbus Netherlands will industrialise this technology towards an optical communication ground station.

Experimental laser communication set-up (© TNO)

As a first step Airbus Netherlands and TNO sign a contract to jointly develop and build a prototype of a gigabit optical terminal in the next year. “Optical communication via satellites will further enable the ever increasing, worldwide data flows. With this partnership we take a lead in the development of cutting-edge communication terminals”, says Arnaud de Jong, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands.

Business opportunity for Dutch high-tech industry

By combining the unique technological knowledge of TNO with the industrial expertise of Airbus Netherlands and that of the Dutch high-tech supplier industry, the partners believe to be able to seize the opportunity the exponentially growing demand for connectivity and secure communications provides. “Optical satellite communication is a next major business opportunity for the Dutch high-tech industry, building further on the rich heritage of space and optical knowhow present in The Netherlands”, says Arnold Stokking, Managing Director Industry at TNO.

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Drs. Kees Buijsrogge

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