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Gaia is the most ambitious space astrometry mission currently envisaged and is a technological challenge in all its aspects. We describe a proposal for the payload data handling system of Gaia, as an example of a high-performance, real-time, concurrent, and pipelined data system. This proposal includes the front-end systems for the instrumentation, the data acquisition and management modules, the star data processing modules, and the payload data handling unit. We also review other payload and service module elements and we illustrate a data flux proposal.