It is difficult to imagine Industry 4.0 without broadband, secure and widely available Internet connectivity. Networked production processes and business models that rely heavily on the Internet are also needed in regions with less well-developed communications infrastructure. Citizens also want to be able to work and access information wherever they are. This is often not possible in less populated areas today. Adequate capacity is essential, particularly for major events or in the event of a disaster.
With geostationary satellites (GEO), wide-area, high-rate networking can also be made available outside urban areas. Future Very High Throughput (VHT) GEO satellites must be able to offer data throughput rates in the range of several terabits per second. Optical communications technologies will be used for this in the future.
The main objective of the German Aerospace Center’s (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) cross-sectoral Global Connectivity from Satellite project is to develop the technologies and build the first prototype in order to demonstrate optical feeder links for GEO satellites. This can be achieved through a two-step approach:
- Development of a prototype for a demonstration using a terrestrial link that emulates a satellite uplink – Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 – focussing on research and development of key technologies
- Development of a prototype, in close cooperation with industry, for an in-orbit demonstration that exploits synergies with current or imminent industrial developments (TRL 7)