The ESA Transportable Optical Ground Station (ETOGS) is a shipping container sized portable laser ground station testbed for use with satellites such as NASA’s Psyche mission. Potential use cases include testing of communications hardware, space debris monitoring and orbit determination via laser ranging. Because it is housed in a standard shipping container and it’s 80-cm telescope can be relatively easily transported.

Purpose and Functionality

The station aims to answer crucial questions regarding the quality of optical links in a variety of conditions, such as urban areas with background light and atmospheric turbulence due to weather. As it is transportable and modular, it supports hardware validation and iteration for partners without incurring the high development costs of a dedicated ground station. This includes FSO communication testing, including Quantum Key Distribution.

Future Operations

The first planned use of the terminal is to establish a 7kW with NASA’s Psyche mission in 2025 while deployed at the Kryoneri Observatory in Greece. This uplink will cover 403 million km. Testing is expected to occur in the latter half of 2024 in Greece using ESA’s Alphasat geostationary satellite.


ESA – ESA shipping container’s laser link to space

ESA – Observing from the roof of ETOGS

ESA – ESA Transportable Optical Ground Station