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Proceedings Article

In-orbit test result of an operational optical intersatellite link between ARTEMIS and SPOT4, SILEX

[+] Author Affiliations
Toni Tolker-Nielsen

European Space Agency/ESTEC (France)

Gotthard Oppenhauser

European Space Agency/ESTEC (Netherlands)

Proc. SPIE 4635, Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies XIV, 1 (April 30, 2002); doi:10.1117/12.464105
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From Conference Volume 4635

  • Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies XIV
  • G. Stephen Mecherle
  • San Jose, CA | January 18, 2002


The Semi conductor Inter satellite Link EXperiment, SILEX, consists of two terminals, one terminal embarked on the French LEO observation satellite SPOT4 and one terminal embarked on ESA's GEO telecommunication satellite ARTEMIS. The objective of SILEX is to perform optical communication experiments in orbit and on an operational basis transmit SPOT4 Earth observation data to ARTEMIS, which will relay the data to ground via its Ka band feeder link. SPOT4 was successfully launched on 22nd March 1998. The ARTEMIS launch on 12th July 2001 left ARTEMIS in an orbit with too low apogee, necessitating orbit raising to a circular parking orbit, altitude 31000 km, using a large fraction of the chemical propellant on board. The remaining 5000 km to GEO stationary orbit will be achieved using the low thrust innovative electric propulsion system necessitating specific attitude control software. The final orbit raising will last about 6 months and the expected lifetime of ARTEMIS after station acquisition is 5 years. While waiting for the establishment of the new attitude control software and the beginning of the final orbit raising maneuvers a test program has been undertaken to characterize the performances of the SILEX system. Testing was performed every fifth day when ARTEMIS was visible over Europe. The test program involves Optical Ground Station acquisition and tracking, inter-satellite link acquisition and tracking, bit error rate measurements and transmission of Earth observation data. The paper reports on results of the in orbit testing, giving comparisons with predictions. The conclusion of the test program is that the SILEX system has excellent performances qualifying the system for operational use by SPOTIMAGE in parallel with a detailed technological experimentation program involving the two SILEX terminals, ESA's optical ground station on Tenerife, and also NASDA's OICETS, once ARTEMIS has acquired its final orbital position.

© (2002) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.

Toni Tolker-Nielsen and Gotthard Oppenhauser
"In-orbit test result of an operational optical intersatellite link between ARTEMIS and SPOT4, SILEX", Proc. SPIE 4635, Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies XIV, 1 (April 30, 2002); doi:10.1117/12.464105; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.464105

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