May 11, 2016 – LGS Innovations announced today it 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.
Under the terms of the contract, 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.
“Small satellites represent the next generation of global communication technologies,” said Kevin Kelly, CEO of LGS Innovations. “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 is the second DARPA contract announced by LGS in recent weeks and 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.
“This program will demonstrate the feasibility of high-bandwidth laser communication between small satellites,” said Dr. Linda Braun, Vice President of LGS Innovations Photonics Applications & Development. “This is increasingly viewed as an essential part of the DoD’s communication network, because of their lower cost and higher survivability.”