From medicine to music
Satellite communications are now being used for many unusual projects. This has been made possible by more powerful satellites and faster data links. One area supported by ESA is the development of multimedia. In August 2004, a satellite was launched carrying the AmerHis 'switchboard in space'. This opened the door to high-speed Internet access, video and radio on demand at much lower cost. It has been so successful that a second AmerHis payload was launched on the Amazonas-2 satellite in 2009.
ESA is also supporting the use of satellites for 'virtual' learning. One of the first projects, called Trapeze, enabled children in fairgrounds and circuses to see and speak to teachers far away. All that was needed was a portable receiver dish and a computer.
In the case of telemedicine, home healthcare can be provided via satellite. Using a video link, patients in remote areas are able to ask for help and advice from doctors.
An ESA-backed project has also shown how high-speed satellite communications can deliver CD-quality music on demand. Customers select from a website and receive their music choices via satellite. These are sent to their PC-linked stereo or burned directly onto a CD.