ISS laboratory to receive new satellite to facilitate communication with Earth

Columbus, ESA's scientific laboratory on board the International Space Station, has been in space for more than 10 years. Soon, the ISS module will receive a satellite that will allow astronauts to send information about their space experiences to Earth almost instantly.

The ColKa satellite, or Columbus Ka-band antenna, reaches ISS via Northrop Grumman's Cygnus rocket. The launch mission was initially scheduled for February 9, however, less favorable weather conditions and a technical problem led to its postponement until the 13th, advances NASA in a press release.

According to ESA, ColKa will be installed outside the Columbus scientific laboratory. The signals sent by the ISS through the equipment will be transmitted to Space, where they will be captured by European satellites in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the earth's surface. ColKa enables faster and independent communications from the NASA system, the agency clarifies.

The ColKa antenna in tests before its launch to the ISS. Credits: ESA

ESA indicates that the satellite will allow speeds of 50 Mbit / s at the reception level and 2 Mbit / s when it comes to transmitting information. Developed under the ARTES program (Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems), ColKa uses the infrastructure of the European Data Relay Sistem, a partnership between ESA and Airbus, to remain in constant communication with Earth.

If all goes as planned this year, the ISS astronauts will dedicate one of their spacewalks to the ColKa installation outside the Columbus module. ESA says that the knowledge acquired through the development of the satellite will be fundamental to its future projects, which include a module responsible for the communications of Gateway, NASA's lunar exploration spacecraft.