Students build an interactive satellite model, which is now shown in the Center for Satellite Communication in Backnang. Participation is the order of the day: visitors have to direct a laser beam with great sensitivity. 

Backnang – The task is anything but easy. Older semesters, in any case, sometimes have a hard time directing the laser beam from one satellite model to the second in the so-called showroom of the German Center for Satellite Communication (Desk) in Backnang. The laser dot moves again and again to the right and to the left, down and up – for a long time, however, unfortunately not exactly on the receiver point. After many minutes of fine tuning on a tablet computer, however, the goal is achieved: the laser beam is seated. And music sounds, a song by the American rock tube Pink. We did it!

Subsidies and skilled workers

The interactive satellite model was built by three Backnang students. The trio studies electrical engineering in Stuttgart and is employed by the Backnang company Tesat-Spacecom. Tesat produces systems and equipment for telecommunications via satellite and is one of the 40 or so companies and other organizations that support the satellite center in the Murrstadt.
The real satellites in space, explains Schnabel, are about ten times as large as the well-football-sized models. Schnabel is not one of the pioneers in satellite technology, having started working for Tesat’s predecessor company in 1966. In 1999 he retired from professional life. For many years now, he has been involved with the desk, explaining technology and electronics to children and young people – and helping to raise new funds for the operation of the satellite center.

60 000 described DIN A 4 pages per second

In orbit, Schnabel explains, the two satellites travel at a speed of around 28,000 kilometers per hour, at an altitude of around 40,000 kilometers. It is a true technical masterpiece to direct the laser beams at this distance and at this speed. The laser technology enables lightning-fast data transmission, “60,000 described DIN A4 pages per second, for example”. The development of the technology took almost 20 years, and the Backnang-based company Tesat has an “international unique selling point” when it comes to laser communication in space, says Schnabel not without pride.
Right next to the latest model in the exhibition is another one: a geostationary satellite and several satellites flying below it can be seen. This construction, according to Schnabel, demonstrates how autonomous driving of cars should work. In his opinion, autonomous driving is not possible with the upcoming 5-G mobile phone network alone. Without satellites, Schnabel says, autonomous driving of cars, buses and trucks can be forgotten. Because in remote areas, such as the Black Forest, it would be impossible to cover every square meter with G 5.
Dilara Betz says that anyone who wants to visit the exhibition at the desk in Schillerstraße 34 must make a telephone Appointment (0 71 91/18 78 313) in advance because of the Corona pandemic. The next official tour on August 27 is already fully booked. A mask is only compulsory on the way to the showroom. Those who take part in the city rallye in Backnang at the end of the month will also come to the German Center for Satellite Communication.

Click here for the original article by Martin Tscheppe.