Realizing the Benefits of the SpaceLink Relay Service
SpaceLink will provide a new way to relay data from space to its users, continuously, comprehensively, and securely.
As activity in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) proliferates, constellations of Earth observation satellites, commercial space stations, tugs, servicers and other remote sensing systems will create massive amounts of data that will need to be transmitted to users on Earth in real time. SpaceLink will provide a new way to relay that data from space to its users, continuously, comprehensively, and securely.
SpaceLink is building a groundbreaking architecture that uses the Always in Sight™ advantages of Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) relay satellites to collect data from LEO systems and relay it to always accessible gateway Earth stations and then directly on to users.
SpaceLink changes the equation for space systems operators who face a growing need to send massive amounts of data from LEO to ground stations during the brief time period that a direct line of sight exists between one of their satellites and a ground station. The challenges for transmitting data from LEO can be illustrated by the fact that a LEO remote sensing satellite only spends a few minutes within contact of any given point on the Earth, during each orbit. With roughly 70 percent of the Earth’s surface covered by ocean, that satellite may only be able to download data for several minutes of each orbit around Earth. A LEO satellite’s ground track generally changes with each orbit, so it may only pass over a ground station once or twice a day or even more infrequently.
The SpaceLink Approach
SpaceLink plans an initial constellation of relay satellites with both RF and optical inter-satellite links, and several optimally located gateway Earth stations. Its specially selected MEO orbit enables coverage of client spacecraft anywhere in LEO, and because the relay satellites are in MEO, the latency is reduced by about half compared to a similar service from Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO).
The SpaceLink orbits are designed so that the relay satellites are always in communication with each other and with one or more gateway Earth stations, sited in secure locations. The relay satellites will provide a continuous real-time flow of data from client spacecraft through the gateways and on to end users through secure terrestrial and cloud networks.
SpaceLink solves the problem of data delivery during a satellite’s extended periods over ocean and out of ground station range, maximizing the effective value of LEO constellations. It provides ample spectrum, reduces the need to develop dedicated ground systems and associated need to navigate the spectrum regulatory regimes of each nation. With these advantages, the SpaceLink relay constellation will provide vital connectivity for human spaceflight, secure always-on communications for civil, military and intelligence applications, and affordable connectivity anywhere from the launch pad to near-Earth space.
- SpaceLink will ease data bottleneck issues with its license to utilize its extensive allocation of more than 21 GHz of RF spectrum – the largest allocation of spectrum licensed to any satellite network.
- SpaceLink’s gateways can relieve the user of the costs and regulatory hurdles of deploying their own ground stations. They will be in secure locations in the U.S., Australia, Europe, and the Middle East. Key characteristics of the gateway locations include that they are: located in friendly territory; positioned in dry climates to minimize atmospheric disturbance of signal reception; optimized for minimal RF interference and have redundant terrestrial fibre connectivity.
- SpaceLink will always be available. If one gateway is temporarily unavailable, data can be downlinked to another gateway in view of the satellite or passed to a second relay satellite for downlink to an alternative gateway.
- SpaceLink offers a suite of user terminals and will provide RF and optical intersatellite links. Implementations may be customized to individual applications.
- SpaceLink’s secure network operations centers (NOCs) will be stationed in the U.S. and Australia, among other locations, directly on high-capacity and high-availability terrestrial fiber backbones. Customers can choose to securely receive their data at any internet-enabled location, private network interconnect, or to install their own equipment at a NOC for maximum data security.
Enabling a New Age of Space Commerce
SpaceLink will help advance humanity to a new age of space commerce, exploration, environmental awareness, and security. The data relay system provides global coverage to empower space system operators to maximize use of their assets. With SpaceLink, LEO satellite operators will have low latency, always-on access to data, visitors to commercial space stations will have continuous communication capability, and on-orbit satellite servicers and tugs can receive maneuvering instructions any time because one of the SpaceLink satellites will always be visible from anywhere in LEO. SpaceLink will meet pent up demand for fast, secure, and reliable access to the growing flood of data available from space.