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University of Toronto Institute of 'Aerospace Studies Space Flight Laboratory'@University of Toronto Institute of 'Aerospace Studies Space Flight Laboratory'

G&H celebrates successful launch of NorSat-TD with SmallCAT payload onboard


G&H, a leading supplier of photonic components and systems, is proud to share that our laser transmitter was successfully launched on the Norwegian NorSat Technology Demonstrator (NorSat-TD) from SpaceX at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Commissioned and operated by the Norwegian Space Agency (NOSA), NorSat-TD demonstrates advanced technology for controlling, tracking, navigating, communicating, and monitoring maritime traffic via satellite.

Among the payloads present on board the NorSat-TD spacecraft is the SmallCAT (Small Communication Active Terminal) laser communication system. Developed by a consortium led by TNO, SmallCAT comprises a <1U laser terminal module (measuring 10 x 10 x 10 centimeters) known as a CubeSaT, which is mounted on a mechanical shock and vibration damping structure. By utilizing G&H’s laser transmitter, SmallCAT significantly enhances the data transmission capabilities of small satellites compared to conversional RF comms.

SmallCAT will demonstrate a high-speed optical downlink that is CCSDS 03K compliant and capable of transmitting at 1 Gbps. In the months ahead, SmallCAT will undergo an in-orbit demonstration as it connects with the optical ground station located at TNO's facility in the Hague, Netherlands. Additionally, SmallCAT is scheduled to communicate with other European optical ground stations as part of the nucleus OGS network initiative spearheaded by KSAT (Kongsberg Satellite Services).

©TNO SmallCat Laser Terminal©TNO SmallCat Laser Terminal

"This groundbreaking project showcases the potential of laser communication technology in space, and we’re proud to be a part of it," said Matthew Welch, Chief Engineer, Fibre-Optic Systems of G&H. "SmallCAT is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team and international partners, and we look forward to seeing the results of this significant demonstration."

The development of SmallCAT was a collaborative effort led by TNO. G&H provided the laser transmitter and the Dutch company AAC Hyperion (a division of AAC Clyde Space) supplied the onboard electronics, drivers, and software. The program was co-funded by TNO, ESA ARTES and the Dutch Ministry of Defense's innovation budget.

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