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European Space Agency launches laser communications hub

A new laser terminal has been launched into orbit by the European Space Agency as part of wider efforts to develop Europe's first optical communications network.

The system will be able to monitor natural disasters and other catastrophes.

The European Data Relay System terminal, launched on Friday from Kazakhstan, was released from its host satellite on Saturday morning.

The stationary hub will collect information from surveillance satellites and relay it using an ultra-fast laser data connection to the ground.

The agency and its partner, Airbus Defence and Space, said they will begin testing the system in the next few days and start delivering services to customers in the summer. A second data relay node is scheduled for launch next year, a third in 2020.

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