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The International Space Station (ISS) may experience faster communications between them in the low-earth orbit and the crew in the ground, thanks to the relay satellite of SpaceLink.

The North Virginia-based company that builds communications superhighways for the space economy said that it is expected to perform the demonstration of its relay satellite in 2024.

 How Will SpaceLink's Realty Satellites Improve Communications in the International Space Station?
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The International Space Station (ISS) is backdropped over Miami, Florida, in this 35mm frame photographed by STS-108 Commander Dominic Gorie aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on Dec. 15, 2001.

StarLink Gets Funding To Demonstrate Relay Satellite for the ISS

In a news release published by SpaceLink in PR Newswire, the company announced that the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages the US National Laboratory for the ISS, selected them for a funded demonstration of its end-to-end relay satellite service. Hopefully, this will provide secure, continuous, and high-capacity communications between the spacecraft and the ground. 

SpaceLink's concept was selected among other companies and research teams that proposed a new technology, which can be used in the low Earth orbit. The selection means that the company could advance its proposal for a potential flight to the ISS.

"Our demonstration on the ISS is the first step to proving SpaceLink's capabilities to advance space science and the emerging space economy," SpaceLink CEO David Bettinger said in a statement.

"Funding from CASIS marks an important milestone in SpaceLink's roadmap to providing massive bandwidth for organizations that need real-time connectivity between space and the ground," he added.

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How Will StarLink Improve Communications in ISS?

The proliferation of spacecraft in the low Earth orbit means high demand for fast, continuous, high-capacity connectivity. SpaceLink's relay satellite was designed to pick up where the NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) left off and go beyond its limitations to provide the latest advancements in optical communication technology.

As reported by Space News, SpaceLink plans a relay constellation of four spacecraft in medium Earth orbit to deliver services to spacecraft in the low Earth orbit. The company said that its spacecraft at higher altitudes would make them visible to aircraft in the low Earth orbit and a gateway ground station on Earth to enable data delivery at any part of the world within milliseconds.

Moreover, the demo mission of its relay satellite will show that its hybrid optical and radiofrequency network and optical, thermal technology can be used in the future for onboard systems, experiments, and communications to the ground crew.

SpaceLink chief technology officer and principal investigator for the ISS demo mission Rob Singh told SpaceNews that SpaceLink would provide a similar high capacity 100-600 Mbps service for RF users.

They will use a 10 Gbps optical terminal to exchange real-time voice, video, and data between the crew aboard the ISS and those on the ground, below the low Earth orbit, according to Defence Connect.

"SpaceLink will also provide higher capacity optical links of 1-10 Gbps for optical clients," Singh said to the news outlet.

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