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DARPA Awards Optical Satellite Terminal Contract to LGS Innovations

By Caleb Henry | May 18, 2016
      NASA Optical

      A NASA digital rendering of satellite optical communications. Photo: NASA

      [Via Satellite 05-18-2016] LGS Innovations has been awarded a contract to develop a prototype pair of lightweight, low-power optical communication terminals for communication between micro-satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) based on light. 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 2 pounds (0.9 kilograms) each, and will operate on less than 3 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 LGS has announced in recent weeks, and is in support of the Inter-Satellite Communication Link project, which seeks to enable direct communication between satellites weighing less than 100 pounds (about 45 kilograms) each. The completed terminals are to enable jam-resistant, high-data-rate, low-latency communication within a network of hundreds of small satellites.