The Most Sensitive Optical Receivers Yet for Space Communications

The experimental setup used in the lab to emulate a deep space data transmission link. (Credit: Yen Strandqvist)

GOTHENBURG, Sweden (Charlmers University of Technology) — Communications in space demand the most sensitive receivers possible for maximum reach, while also requiring high bit-rate operations. A novel concept for laser-beam based communications, using an almost noiseless optical preamplifier in the receiver, was recently demonstrated by researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.

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What’s On Board Vega Booster

The European Vega rocket that launched this evening was carrying 53 satellites on its first rideshare mission as part of the Small Spacecraft Mission Service Proof of Concept Flight.

The payloads included 14 Flock 4V Earth imaging satellites from Planet, 12 SpaceBEE Internet of Things spacecraft from Swarm Technologies, and 8 maritime monitoring satellites from Spire.

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Chinese Internet of Things Constellation Achieves Breakthrough in Inter-satellite Laser Communications

Xingyun-2 01, 02 laser communication simulation diagram. (Credit: CASIC)

(CASIC PR) — Recently, the Xingyun 2 01 and Xingyun 2 02 satellites have achieved two-way communication with a complete chain construction process and stable telemetry status. This means that the laser communication payload technology carried by the Xingyun 2 satellite has been successfully verified.

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Mynaric Appoints Aerospace and Communications Industry Veteran Tina Ghataore to Lead Mynaric USA

MUNICH, August 17, 2020 (Mynaric PR) – Mynaric (Frankfurt Stock Exchange: M0Y, ISIN: DE000A0JCY11) has announced that Tina Ghataore has been appointed company president of its US-branch Mynaric USA. Tina joins Mynaric USA from Yahsat, a Mubadala company, where she was spearheading the expansion of their satellite communication services business into the mobility communications sector, as the Executive Vice President for Inflight Connectivity. 

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic, Looks Ahead in 2020, 2021

SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — With 2020 more than half way through, NASA is gearing up for a busy rest of the year and 2021.

Following the recent successful launch of a Mars rover and safely bringing home astronauts from low-Earth orbit aboard a new commercial spacecraft, NASA is looking forward to more exploration firsts now through 2021.

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6 Technologies NASA is Advancing to Send Humans to Mars

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Mars is an obvious source of inspiration for science fiction stories. It is familiar and well-studied, yet different and far enough away to compel otherworldly adventures. NASA has its sights on the Red Planet for many of the same reasons.

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NASA’s Next Laser Communications Demo Installed, Integrated on Spacecraft

Northrop Grumman technicians in front of the LCRD payload fully installed and integrated on the Space Test Program Satellite (STPSat-6). (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On July 16, 2020, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) payload was installed and integrated on the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program Satellite 6 (STPSat-6) in preparation for a 2021 launch.

As an experimental payload, LCRD will demonstrate the robust capabilities of laser communications, which can provide significant benefits to missions, including bandwidth increases of 10 to 100 times more than radio frequency systems.

Prior to spacecraft integration, the LCRD payload went through several tests and blanket installations at Northrop Grumman’s integration and test facility in Dulles, Virginia. While LCRD underwent testing, Northrop Grumman technicians also prepared the spacecraft for LCRD’s integration.

Now that the two components have been fully integrated, they will undergo environmental testing and end-to-end compatibility testing to ensure the spacecraft and payload can properly communicate with one another.

LCRD will be NASA’s first two-way optical relay, sending and receiving data from missions in space to mission control on Earth. LCRD is paving the way for future optical communications missions, which could use LCRD to relay their data to the ground.

In 2022, the Integrated LCRD Low-Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal (ILLUMA-T), hosted on the International Space Station, will be the first LCRD demonstration from low-Earth orbit.

LCRD was built by Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, before being shipped to the Northrop Grumman facility in January 2020. LCRD is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, and managed by NASA’s Technology Demonstration Missions and the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program office.

Data Relay Satellite Beams at Light Speed

EDRS antennas undergoing tests. (Credit: DLR)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The most sophisticated laser communication network ever designed has gained its second satellite.

The European Data Relay System (EDRS) was built to accelerate the flow of information from Earth-observation satellites to people on the ground.

The second satellite in the network, EDRS-C, has now passed its user commissioning review and entered into full service.

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General Atomics Partners with Space Development Agency to Demonstrate Optical Intersatellite Link

SAN DIEGO, CA, June 5, 2020 (General Atomics PR) — General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today that it has partnered with the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA) to demonstrate and conduct a series of experiments for an Optical Intersatellite Link (OISL) utilizing GA-EMS’s internally developed 1550nm (nanometer) wavelength laser communication terminals (LCTs).

This will be one of the first Department of Defense contracted efforts to develop and deploy a state-of-the-art 1550nm LCT to test capabilities to increase the speed, distance, and variability of communications in space.

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NASA Laser Communications Project Running Behind Schedule, Over Budget

Laser Relay Data Demonstration project (Credit: Universities Space Research Association)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A NASA project to demonstrate advanced optical laser communications in space is running nearly $50 million over budget and 14 months behind schedule, according to a recent assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) project is designed to advance optical communication technology for use on near-Earth and deep space missions.

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ESA Data-relay Satellite Ready for Service

Artist’s impression of EDRS system in space. (Credit: DLR)

PARIS (ESA) — The second node in the most sophisticated laser communication network ever designed is ready to go into service.

Dubbed the “SpaceDataHighway”, the European Data Relay System (EDRS) helps Earth-observing satellites to transmit large quantities of potentially life-saving data to Europe in near-real time.

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Space Micro Wins $3M Lasercom Award at USAF Space Pitch Day

SAN DIEGO (Space Micro PR) — At the USAF Space Pitch Day, Space Micro received a $3M award by the USAF Space and Missile Center (SMC) for the development of modified laser secure communications terminals to be used for upcoming Air Force missions.

The U.S. Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) conducted its Pitch Day to enable the quick acquisition of technologies for military use. Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics has championed these rapid acquisition events.

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NASA Prepares for Moon and Mars With New Addition to Its Deep Space Network

This artist’s concept shows what Deep Space Station-23, a new antenna dish capable of supporting both radio wave and laser communications, will look like when completed at the Deep Space Network’s Goldstone, California, complex. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

FORT IRWIN, Calif. (NASA PR) — Surrounded by California desert, NASA officials broke ground Tuesday, Feb. 11, on a new antenna for communicating with the agency’s farthest-flung robotic spacecraft. Part of the Deep Space Network (DSN), the 112-foot-wide (34-meter-wide) antenna dish being built represents a future in which more missions will require advanced technology, such as lasers capable of transmitting vast amounts of data from astronauts on the Martian surface. As part of its Artemis program NASA will send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, applying lessons learned there to send astronauts to Mars.

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Mynaric Wins €1.7 million Contract to deliver Satellite Constellation Laser Communication Terminals

  • Mynaric announces deal for the delivery of multiple space laser communication terminals worth EUR 1.7m
  • Contract confirms market demand for Mynaric’s cost-effective, serially produced laser communication inter-satellite product designed for mega-constellations

Munich, October 17, 2019 (Mynaric PR) – Mynaric (Frankfurt Stock Exchange: M0Y, ISIN: DE000A0JCY11) has announced today that it will deliver multiple laser communication flight terminals to an undisclosed customer in an initial deal valued at EUR 1.7 million ($1.9 million).

The company’s space products are scheduled to be launched on a product validation mission which will serve as a pathfinder to integrate and qualify Mynaric’s products with the customer’s satellites.

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JAXA, Sony CSL to Conduct In-Orbit Demonstrations of Long-Distance Laser Communication Using ISS Kibo Module

Figure 1: SOLISS system flight model (Credit: JAXA/Sony CSL)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA, President: Hiroshi Yamakawa) and Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc. (Sony CSL, President and CEO: Hiroaki Kitano) have announced their plans to conduct in-orbit demonstrations of the long-distance laser communication system, which they have jointly developed with the aim of establishing a real-time, mass-data communication system for future inter-satellite communications and communications with ground stations.

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