In the frame of the SILEX project, the European Space Agency (ESA) has put into orbit two Laser Communication Terminals, to establish an experimental free space optical communication link between a GEO satellite (ARTEMIS) and a LEO satellite (SPOT IV), to relay earth observation data. In order to perform In Orbit Testing (IOT) of these, and other, optical communications systems, ESA and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) reached an agreement for building the Optical Ground Station (OGS), in the Teide Observatory of the IAC. With ARTEMIS placed in a circular parking orbit at about 31000 kilometres, its optical payload has been preliminary tested with the OGS. First results and analysis are presented on the space-to-ground bi-directional link, including pointing acquisition and tracking performance, Bit-Error Rate (BER) and transmitted beam divergence effects related with atmospheric models and predictions. Future plans include deeper optical bi-directional communication tests of OGS, not only with ARTEMIS but also with OSCAR-40 (downlink) and SMART-1 (up-link) satellites, in order to do a full characterisation of the performances of laser beam propagation through atmospheric turbulence and a comparison with theoretical predictions.© (2002) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.