A UK-built device has reached the International Space Station (ISS), which will enable astronauts to communicate with Earth at home broadband speeds.
The device will be installed later this year right outside the Columbus module that is the International Space Station’s science laboratory.
A communications antenna called the Columbus Ka-band Terminal (COLKa), arrived on a Cygnus supply ship this morning making it the first industrial contribution from the UK to the International Space Station.
The contract to design and build this device was assigned to MDA Space and Robotics Limited, a global communications and information company based in Harwell, Oxfordshire.
David Kenyon, managing director at MDA UK, said: “The COLKa programme has firmly established MDA in the UK as a leading provider of high-quality space equipment, positioning us for continued business growth and new jobs in both communications and space sensor markets.”
To make the device work the astronauts will have to step out of the ISS during a spacewalk to mount it on the module’s meteoroids protection panel and connect the wires to the unit before it can be switched on.
The European Space Agency (ESA) said the high-speed radio link of the device will transmit scientific data to stations in Europe and the world which are eager to get the latest results from their experiments.
The device will send signals from the ISS, which orbits at around 155 miles (250km) above Earth, even further into space where they will be picked up by European satellites 22,000 miles (13,670km) above the planet’s surface.
The device will transmit signals from the ISS, which orbits at around 155 miles (250km) above Earth, they will be picked up by European satellites 22,000 miles (13,670km) above the planet’s surface.
The ESA added, the device will transmit data at the speed of up to 50mbps, allowing “astronauts and researchers to benefit from a direct link with Europe at home broadband speeds.”
Dr. Graham Turnock, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “This is yet another example of the UK economy benefiting, through investment, jobs and new skills, from our continued collaboration with the European Space Agency.”
The UK Space Agency said the knowledge gained from designing, building and running COLKa could be used for another communications package being designed for the Lunar Gateway, a small spaceship currently being built that will orbit around the Moon.
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