Surrey Satellite Technology US LLC and BridgeSat Inc. are partnering together to work toward developing a free-space optical communications system that will provide secure data downlinks from satellites to a proprietary ground network at faster speeds than equivalent radio frequency solutions.
Surrey’s optical communications terminal will be equipped with a standardized interface, allowing the terminals to be used on either Surrey’s satellites or as flight units for other satellite providers. With advanced forward error correction and a “smart” module to achieve pointing accuracy, the data transmission system is expected to have a lower cost and more efficient mass/power performance compared to traditional radio frequency solutions.
Under this partnership, Surrey will build the flight laser terminal units that will communicate with BridgeSat’s global ground network. Together, Surrey and BridgeSat aim to provide users with a “one-stop” solution to transmit data at up to 10 gigabits per second, per link. The companies expect the optical communications system to be operational within the next couple of years.
Bringing a more accessible and faster optical solution to the smallsat market, and at lower cost, is definitely a unique opportunity, so stated Dr. Clare Martin, the Vice President for Programs at SSTL. "With each unit at a mass of 1.5 kilogram or less and power under 25 watts, we see this solution as a game changer for eliminating data downlink constraints for the commercial satellite community,” she said.
John Serafini, BridgeSat’s co-general manager who is also a senior vice president at its parent company, Allied Minds, added, “Surrey’s commitment to using BridgeSat’s ground station infrastructure as part of its optical communications solution represents an important step forward with the technology.”