Until recently, laser optical links for high-bandwidth satellite transmissions were limited to satellite-to-satellite communication. To establish such a link with an aircraft, engineers had to contend with the distortion and attenuation of the signal by the atmosphere and by the movement and vibrations of the aircraft.
Astrium, a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, developed LOLA, a two-way laser optical link between an airborne aircraft and the Artemis geostationary satellite capable of 50 megabits-per-second transmission with an error rate of less than one error bit per billion.
Astrium reduced control development and validation time by using MathWorks tools for Model-Based Design, an approach that was already well-established within the organization.
"We use Model-Based Design regularly for timed simulations and modeling spacecraft dynamics," explains David Gendre, pointing development engineer at Astrium. "On this project, we used Simulink, Simulink Coder, and Simulink Real-Time to develop a control system model and a physical model of the pointing hardware. We used these models for continuous functional verification and to generate code for hardware-in-the-loop tests and the real-time demonstration system used in flight tests."