In order to provide all European citizens with internet access of at least 100 Mbps, as well as seamless integration with the 5G network, a satellite constellation is required that can effectively handle and distribute large amounts of data.
This ‘Fiber in the Sky’ implies that satellites must be able to communicate data with each other quickly and in sufficient volumes. The SODaH project is developing key technologies that will streamline this communication in the future.
Satellite internet in the remotest areas…
A constellation that has to provide fast and reliable internet to even the remotest areas requires hundreds of satellites. All future generation of constellation satellites will be transferring data to each other using laser signals – think of it as optic fibre internet without the fibres. Such Optical Inter-Satellite Links or OISLs enable the formation of a network with the satellites at the nodes. At the moment, several technologies are proposed in current and near future technologies: the OISL communication between satellites is processed in laser communication terminals, the on-board digital processor, the radio frequency receiver. These technologies are considered as sufficiently mature for high-end applications.
However, satellite constellations typically consist of smaller, cheaper satellites that need to be more versatile and reconfigurable. The key to achieving such versatile constellation with OISL with global coverage, is to develop a Photonic Modulator, Routing and Digitalization Unit (P_MRD Unit) that will act as the interface between the OISLs and the digital processor on board the satellite that will connect to end users and ground antennas using radiofrequency (RF). Such a P_MRD Unit will enhance flexibility, efficient routing, redundancy and advanced multiplexing of signals.
H2020 SODaH project
The SODaH project revolves around the creation of this P_MRD Unit. It will be developed with a design-to-cost and a design-to-manufacture approach, to ensure its market relevance and readiness for future generation of constellations in 2021. The result of this project is a demonstrator that will showcase the added value and the maturity of the P_MRD Unit to the communication satellite community. The demonstrator will have a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5.