In Brief
Space may be seeing its first fiber optic broadband capability after accomplishment of ambitious upgrade by the European Space Agency.
What It Is

An ambitious upgrade is being undertaken by the European Space Agency or ESA to improve its deep space tracking network by 2018. This will allow people on earth to be able to communicate with some spacecraft via urban fiber optic broadband speeds, which is a major improvement to what they have now. ESA will modify their three biggest satellite dishes along with seven smaller stations around the world to form the European space tracking or Estrack network. They already have designs for the arrays of antennas to use in which to increase the bandwidth intended for missions in the future.

The Implications

This new feat will allow the ESA to make use of higher frequency radio waves by 2018 using their Estrack dishes to carry a lot more information back and forth from station to spacecraft. Having enhanced fiber optic broadband speeds may be the stepping stone towards Internet connectivity for people in space to check their emails and make Skype calls to their loved ones.