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

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
August 20, 2020
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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.

The Internet of Things constellation achieves a breakthrough in inter-satellite laser communication. So far, since the two satellites were launched into orbit on May 12 this year to carry out in-orbit technical testing, all core technologies have been fully verified.

Inter-satellite laser communication is a communication method that uses laser beams as carrier waves to transmit images, voices, signals and other information in space. It has the advantages of high transmission rate, strong anti-interference ability, small system terminal size, light weight, and low power consumption.

It can greatly reduce the dependence of the satellite constellation system on the ground network, thereby reducing the number and construction cost of ground customs stations, expanding the coverage area, and realizing global measurement and control. 

It is reported that the “Xingyun 2 01 and 02 satellites have a laser communication payload of 6.5 kilograms and 80 watts of power consumption in orbit.

Xingyun 2 01 and 02 were developed by Xingyun Company, a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science Industry and Aerospace Sanjiang. It is the first satellite of the space-based Internet of Things (Xingyun Engineering). It was successfully launched on May 12, 2020. After that, a series of on-orbit technology verification and industry demonstration application tests were launched.

At present, inter-satellite laser link technology has become a key technology for the development of global satellite communication systems. Public information shows that among the global low and medium orbit constellation projects, only the Starlink constellation and LeoSat constellation in the United States have proposed plans to use inter-satellite laser links to achieve space networking. 

In China, Xingyun has developed the smallest inter-satellite laser communication payload in China, achieving a zero breakthrough in laser communication between the domestic satellite Internet of things constellation, and breaking the bottleneck of information transmission between the satellite Internet of things constellation.