Ball Aerospace To Design First Commercial Laser Communications Satellite Fleet

Boulder, Colorado. September 11, 2014 – Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has been selected by Laser Light™ Communications, LLC (Laser Light™) to be its prime contractor for the first global, all-optical commercial satellite system. As customer demand for bandwidth grows, space-based laser communication provides a new way to move vast amounts of information around the globe efficiently and with greater resiliency.

The Ball Aerospace contract will include a first phase design analysis that will lead to completion of an eight-satellite constellation operating in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). The complete constellation of up to 12 satellites is expected to deliver 6 terabits of data per second with service speeds of 200 gigabits per second, bi-directionally, or nearly 100 times faster than conventional radio downlinks.

While conventional systems require labor-intensive infrastructure and are vulnerable to potential service disruptions, Laser Light™’s system will deliver equivalent bandwidth connections at lower operating costs, with higher speed and reliability. This new optical system will integrate seamlessly with existing ground service networks, offering multiple downlink locations to eliminate slowdowns from network congestion, outages, or weather interruptions.

“With a long-standing commitment to laser communications development, Ball Aerospace has significantly advanced the technology for civil, defense and commercial applications through our laser research and development as well as space-proven hardware,” said Cary Ludtke, vice president and general manager of Ball’s Operational Space business unit. “Our design work for Laser Light Communications will capitalize on this rich heritage.”

Ball has proven expertise in state-of-the-art precision pointing, acquisition, and tracking, high-power optical amplifiers, and high-bandwidth optical communications technologies. The company has designed and integrated complete laser terminals for a wide variety of user applications that span airborne, spaceborne, terrestrial and ship-based missions.

Most recently, the company completed a risk reduction analysis for the Department of Defense Transformational Satellite program that examined secure, high data rate transfers for military communication satellites using optical terminals.

“The timing for this project is ideal and Ball’s pioneering work in emerging laser communications technology makes them the perfect teammate to bring Laser Light™’s system to market,” said Robert Brumley, Senior Managing Director, Laser Light™ Communications. “Ball’s selection for the contract concludes a 15-month competitive process that vetted 24 global firms to validate that a global, laser communications constellation could be built and deployed cost-effectively, without sacrificing performance or schedule.”