Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands (AirbusDS.nl)
Collaboration with SSC
On 21 January 2021, Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) and AirbusDS.nl signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for collaborative activities regarding ground equipment for space-to-ground optical communication. AirbusDS.nl will accelerate their development of optical ground stations which will be used by SSC in delivering ground network services. One of the collaborative activities in developing this capability includes optical communication tests against the CubeLCT optical terminal on the Photo Images Cross Laser (PIXL-1) Mission, organized in close co-operation with project partner TESAT. PIXL-1 will be launched on the 22nd of January. 
On April 12, 2021, it was announced that Airbus is developing its UltraAir terminal as part of the European SpaceDataHighway. AirbusDS.nl is responsible for making the terminals while TESAT will be involved in all testing activities. The first tests of UltraAir are to take place at the end of 2021 in Tesat’s laboratory in Stuttgart, Germany. Ground tests are expected to start in early 2022 in Tenerife, Spain, where connectivity will be established between an UltraAir demonstrator and the laser terminal embarked on the Alphasat satellite using the ESA Optical Ground Station. The final test of the UltraAir demonstrator is planned to be conducted on board an aircraft by mid-2022.
Airbus partnered with TNO who will provide the experience in high-precision opto-mechatronics required for the terminals. The UltraAir terminal is projected to be capable of providing laser connections between an aircraft and a satellite in GEO. This could eventually lead to UltraAir products with data transmission rates that reaching several gigabits-per-second while providing anti-jamming capabilities as well as a low probability of interception.
UltraAir is funded by Airbus, TNO, and the Netherlands Space Office (NSO) and is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ScyLight (Secure and Laser communication technology) program. The SpaceDataHighway satellite infrastructure is a public-private project between Airbus and the ESA. The SpaceDataHighway onsists of a growing number of European Data Relay System (EDRS) satellites in a geostationary orbit and has achieved secure data transfer services at a rate of 1.8 Gbit/s in near-real-time.