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Satellite communications

Laser satellite communications requires the ability to send optical signals over long distances. We engineer photonics for satellites that do just that.

SMOS satelliteSMOS satellite. Image courtesy of ESA.©️ ESA

Photonics for satellites requires reliability, durability, and power.

In order to effectively transmit over such long distances, the source laser requires high optical power to overcome scattering and enable communication between a transmitter and receiver. In space, these payloads must have low power consumption, be small and lightweight with a high capacity of information transfer, as well as be future-proof transmission links.

Using our considerable experience in the design and manufacture of space-grade components, we develop application-specific sub-systems for laser satellite communications by leveraging the world-leading expertise of our core enabling photonic technologies.

ESA Cubesat fitcheck©️ Image courtesy of ESA

How we work in photonics for satellite communications

A challenge for laser satellite communications is ensuring the optimum operation of equipment in harsh environments. Effects from radiation, shock, vibration, and temperature can damage optical systems and render them non-functional. To ruggedize our optical systems we utilize simulation methods such as finite element analysis, as well as in-situ verification of components and systems during launch and in orbit.

Another challenge of photonics for satellite communications is the high optical power that is required to overcome scattering and inherent divergence in the laser beam over such large distances. The power requirements for multi-Tbit/s feeder links exceed the physical limitations of a single laser source and thus combining multiple high-power beams is necessary to reach the necessary optical powers.

Our meticulous package design delivers excellent thermal performance and allows for high optical power scaling at the component and system level. Due to our knowledge and capabilities, people are coming to us to manufacture the next generation of high-power feed links.

Lastly, reducing SWAP-C (size, weight, power, and cost) is an important balancing act for devices that need to reach higher performance as well as fit in smaller boxes, using less power and being inexpensive. We have significant experience with housing and packaging design which enables us to fit the necessary components into as small a footprint as possible, while not compromising on quality. Working both at the component and system level enables us to either build or source components both time and cost-efficiently, resulting in the highest quality at the best value.

Global satellite communications imageGlobal satellite communications©️ Private

Our satellite communications product and technology development

Our expertise in the design and development of high-reliability photonics components and systems is leveraged to create a portfolio of space compatible products and solutions exploiting our vertical integration capabilities.

We realize key building blocks of next-generation laser communication terminals and sensing equipment by integrating components into high-value systems. Within the frameworks of commercial and R&D contracts, we advance the state-of-the-art fiber optic modules.

We offer the complete range of related services, including but not limited to:

  • Optical amplifier development
  • Low SWAP-C transmitter and receiver amplifiers development and manufacture
  • Custom assembly
  • Photonic packaging for harsh environments
  • Space qualified components for amplifiers, transmitters, receivers, beam combiners (WDMs), and fused couplers.