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The European project « VERTIGO » concluded with telecom data transmission on a laser link at record high power

April 12, 2023 - Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), and its partners are pleased to announce that the VERTIGO project has concluded with the successful demonstration of a high-power optical data transmission system at the Thales laboratory in Palaiseau, France. This is a key success for the development of future geostationary communication satellites using optical feeder links to increase significantly the capacity currently available. These solutions will play a key role to bridge the digital divide and provide broadband connectivity for all by 2025. The objective is also to boost satellites capacity in order to reduce the number of satellites required to meet the users demand.

In this frame, Thales Alenia Space, Thales, G&H and Leo Space Photonics R&D demonstrated the generation and transmission of optical communication signals carrying data at 25 Gbps in a controlled environment at a record breaking optical power of 97 W opening the way to 100W-class transmissions. This was achieved by splitting a modulated optical signal into two paths, each amplified through an individual state-of-the-art G&H high power amplifier, and then coherently combining the two amplifier outputs. This was an opportunity not only to demonstrate high and very high optical power generation but also to prove the possibility to transmit telecom signals at very high power while maintaining data integrity, a necessary condition for use in free-space optical links over long distances.


 © Thales Alenia Space

Following the outdoor trials of free-space optical links in Summer 2022, which notably demonstrated a record transmission at 1 Tbps over an atmospheric optical path of 53 km, the laboratory test campaign performed in Thales facilities concludes the VERTIGO project with a new record.

Capitalizing on the results of the VERTIGO project, the next step will be to target a full-scale coherent laser link between a geostationary satellite at an altitude around 36.000 km and a ground station.

Next generation satellite systems will play a key role to bridge the digital divide and offer broadband connectivity for all by 2025. In this context, optical feeder links are considered as a very promising technology to meet the future VHTS system requirements. VERTIGO ambitions to pave the way towards very high throughput satellite systems and contribute to maintain EU technological leading edge and industry competitiveness.

About the H2020 VERTIGO project
VERTIGO (Very High Throughput Satellite-Ground Optical link) is a H2020 collaborative project, launched on June 1st 2019 and completed at the beginning of 2023,  demonstrating concepts allowing for a significant capacity increase of feeder links through the use of state-of-the-art optical technologies. VERTIGO address the key enabling technologies (high optical power generation, high efficiency waveforms, atmospheric impairments mitigation)  for the implementation of high-throughput optical links and assess them in ground indoor and outdoor demonstrations thanks to a fully complementary consortium composed of CREONIC GmbH, ETH Zürich, Fraunhofer HHI, G&H, LEO Space Photonics R&D, ONERA, Thales Alenia Space in France and Switzerland and Thales Research & Technology.

This project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 822030. 


Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately €2.2 billion in 2022 and has around 8,500 employees in 10 countries with 17 sites in Europe and a plant in the US.


Sandrine Bielecki    
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94

Catherine des Arcis    
Tel: +33 (0)6 78 64 63 97