LGS Innovations announced May 11 that the company has been awarded a contract to develop a prototype pair of lightweight, low-power optical communication terminals that will allow for light-based communication between micro-satellites in low-earth orbit.
“Small satellites represent the next generation of global communication technologies,” LGS Innovations CEO Kevin Kelly said. “A constellation of small-satellites that can communicate with each other will improve our armed forces’ ability to send and receive data from around the planet quickly, safely, securely and at the lowest cost to date.”
“This program will demonstrate the feasibility of high-bandwidth laser communication between small satellites,” LGS Innovations Photonics Applications & Development Vice President Dr. Linda Braun said. “This is increasingly viewed as an essential part of the DoD’s communication network, because of their lower cost and higher survivability.”
LGS will be responsible for developing a pair of laser communication terminals to be launched on two Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) small satellites. The terminals are to be extremely lightweight, weighing less than two pounds each, and will operate on less than three watts of power.
This DARPA contract is in support of the Inter-Satellite Communication Link project, which seeks to enable direct communication within constellations of small satellites (weighing less than 100 pounds each). Once completed and deployed, the terminals will allow for jam-resistant, high-data-rate, low-latency communication within a network of hundreds of small satellites.