ESA's HydRON - The future of communication

HydRON is ESA’s vision for an end-to-end optical high throughput space network. 

The HydRON vision aims to bring optical communication technologies to maturity for a wide range of satcom services. The vision encompasses the provision of high-capacity data transport and flexible network services by connecting space and ground assets via an optical network. This not only requires the maturation of already existing technologies that enable optical intersatellite links in space, but also needs to overcome the challenges associated with optical connections through the atmosphere and from orbit to ground. It also requires a new generation of ground stations which are able to receive and send optical links to orbit. HydRON's key objective is to create a system that allows a seamless inter-operability between elements of the optical space network and terrestrial systems.

HydRON has evolved this vision through its now completed Phase A studies. As part of this first stage, high level commercial use cases for a fully optical satcom network were identified in order to understand technical system requirements. This went hand in hand with a first system design of an end-to-end optical satcom system.  

A key element of this stage was the identification and engagement with potential stakeholders – industrial involvement at the earliest stage is essential to refine the broad vision of optical satcom to tangible, technically and commercially feasible mission scenarios.  

In 2022, HydRONs Demonstrator mission is up for funding by the ESA Member States at the occasion of the 2022 ESA Council Ministerial. The Demonstrator System has a technical baseline demonstrated below:


HydRON is 

 - Maturing European Technologies

 - An open international collaboration opportunity

 - An orbital testing platform for your ideas

 - Currently in Phase A/B1

- Elaborating a first Demonstrator Mission Concept


HydRON is part of ESA’s ARTES 4.0 Strategic Programme Line on “Optical Communication – ScyLight.” The programme aims to foster “Industrial Excellence and Market Lead in Optical Communication Technology by 2025.” 

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