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European project «VERTIGO» reaches key milestone by achieving record free-space laser communication transmission speed

Towards unprecedented connectivity services using laser communications to boost the most powerful geostationary communications satellites capacities

October 3, 2022 – Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), and its partners are pleased to announce the success of the field trial in Switzerland implementing a ground-ground very high speed laser communication link through the atmosphere. This is a major step towards next generation of Geostationary communications satellites using optical feeder links to double the current available feeder link capacity. These solutions will play a key role to bridge the digital divide and offer high-speed connectivity for all by 2025. The objective is also to boost satellites capacity in order to reduce the number of satellites required to satisfy the user demand, thus limiting the impact on environment.

During the test campaign, ETHZ, ONERA and Thales Alenia Space demonstrated a record transmission speed in free-space of up to 1 Tbit/s on a single wavelength and over a distance of 53 km. This achievement was established under extremely challenging conditions by transmitting data through a turbulent propagation channel between Jungfraujoch Research Station in Swiss Alps and Zimmerwald Observatory in the neighbourhood of Bern. The trial was the opportunity to test the combination of key technologies for optical links including adaptive optics, multi-aperture techniques as well as a variety of modulation formats.
VERTIGO is now moving to next and final step of the project dedicated to high power communication link tests in a laboratory environment at Thales Research and Technology.
Next step beyond this project will target a full-scale laser link between a geostationary satellite, at an altitude of 36.000 km, and a ground station.

About the H2020 VERTIGO project :
VERTIGO (Very High Throughput Satellite-Ground Optical link) is a 3-year H2020 collaborative project, launched on June 1st 2019,  demonstrating concepts allowing for a significant capacity increase of feeder links through the use of state-of-the-art optical technologies. VERTIGO addresses the key enabling technologies (high optical power generation, high efficiency waveforms, atmospheric impairments mitigation)  for the implementation of high-throughput optical links and tests 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 to 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 2.15 billion euros in 2021 and has around 8,000 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
Marija Kovac               Tel.: +39 (0)6 415 129 91