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Paris, April 10, 2024

Safran Data Systems, a Safran Electronics & Defense company, has signed a contract with Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) to supply an optical ground station designed to support Earth-space communications at data rates 10 to 100 times faster than radiofrequency systems. The latest-generation solution will be installed in Chile at the end of this year.

Safran Data Systems will deliver to Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) an IRIS optical ground station, consisting of a 50-cm laser telescope and optronics (electro-optical) systems that ensure optimal coverage of the sky. Featuring the Cortex Lasercom optical communications modem, this ground station offers much faster communication speeds than conventional radiofrequency technologies.

The vast majority of modern Earth-space communications systems use radio waves, a technology that’s both simple and reliable, and that meets the challenges of the space industry. Laser technology is now raising the bar even higher, opening up new prospects across the entire space sector. Safran Data Systems’ optical ground stations are a perfect complement to radiofrequency communications with their ability to transmit data 10 to 100 times faster.

Developed wholly in-house, this system rounds out Safran Data Systems’ portfolio of turnkey solutions geared to the space industry’s needs. Its IRIS stations are adapted to a broad spectrum of missions and are natively compatible with international standards, assuring flexibility and adaptation with a wide range of satellites. With this technology and its radiofrequency antennas, Safran Data Systems is the world leader in ground stations for communications between spacecraft and Earth.

“Optical communications is a truly revolutionary technology,” notes Noël Barreau, Executive VP Space & Communication at Safran Data Systems. “It’s paving the way for new applications by pushing the limits of current space communications, and we are proud to be driving this revolution alongside the Swedish Space Corporation.

“The advanced Safran Data Systems IRIS station with its multi-mission capabilities will be a key addition to our upcoming optical ground station network and in the development of space-to-Earth optical communication services. We are excited to continue this journey and advance the technology of space communication and increase data rates,” says Hanna Sundberg, SSC Optical Program Manager and Project Manager for the NODES project.

The new optical ground station will join the NODES network developed by SSC under contract awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA), with the support of the Swedish National Space Agency, in the frame of its ARTES Scylight1 programme. It will be installed in Chile at the end of 2024, making it the third such station in the world supplied by Safran Data Systems. 

Learn more: Optical Ground Station: Safran revolutionizing space communications | Safran (safran-group.com)


1- NODES: Network of Optical stations for Data transfer to Earth from Space. NODES  is part of ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) Scylight programme (https://connectivity.esa.int/projects/nodes). This contract supports the implementation, test and demonstration of an optical network and corresponding service, including the commissioning of the optical ground stations in the network.

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Safran is an international high-technology group, operating in the aviation (propulsion, equipment and interiors), defense and space markets. Its core purpose is to contribute to a safer, more sustainable world, where air transport is more environmentally friendly, comfortable and accessible. Safran has a global presence, with 92 000 employees and sales of 23.2 billion euros in 2023, and holds, alone or in partnership, world or regional leadership positions in its core markets. Safran is listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange and is part of the CAC 40 and Euro Stoxx 50 indices

Safran Electronics & Defense is an international company with 12,000 employees, built on proven expertise in technologies that underpin sovereignty. By combining human and artificial intelligence, the company develops the products and services that empower aerospace and defense players to observe, decide and guide. Safran Electronics & Defense also supports fellow Safran companies by sharing its state-of-the-art electronics skills and expertise.

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