Europe to launch the first node, EDRS-A, in the construction of the European Data Relay Satellite (EDRS) network, a data highway using laser-based communications to transmit information regarding natural disasters like earthquakes and floods.
The EDRS-A node will be going up into space from Kazakhstan on-board a Proton rocket, scheduled to launch tonight at 22:20 GMT (4:20 local time).
The node is to orbit the planet at an altitude of around 36,000km and contains a laser which works like a telescope, locking onto moving targets on the ground and relaying the information to users in Europe, Africa and the Atlantic sea as well as other paying customers.
EDRS is a collaboration from the European Space Agency and Airbus Defence and space.
The node is due to go up attached to the Eutelsat 9B satellite which will be used to beam TV images to Europe, such a agreement cuts down the launch costs for both operators of the satellite.
The second satellite named EDRS-C is due to be launched some time in mid-2017, with the view to launch more satellites, probably coupled to commercial craft.