LOLA (Liaison Optique Laser Aéroportée) is a French national demonstrator programme to establish an optical link through the atmosphere between an airborne carrier representative of the future medium- and high-altitude UAVs (MALE and HALE) and ESA's Artemis geo-stationary communications satellite. EADS Astrium is prime contractor on this programme. First in the world: the flight tests at 6,000m and 10,000m performed in 2006 demonstrated the feasibility of establishing and maintaining 40,000km optical links between a Mystère XX and the Artemis geo-stationary spacecraft. These first ever optical links between an airborne and a geostationary satellite have shown performance levels above expectations. The link will be used for secure transmission of information received from UAVs by operation centers a few thousand kilometres away, within about one second and at very high data rates. This high capacity data stream will considerably reduce the time needed to transmit information from the theatre of operation, improve control of information and bring significant operational advantages.
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