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New Dutch Joint Venture FSO Instruments Targets the Lasercom Market 

By Rachel Jewett | March 22, 2023

Rendering of lasercom network. Photo: FSO Instruments

A trio of Dutch organizations are working together to target the laser communications market in the satellite industry. Technology developers Demcon and VDL Group formed a joint venture this month called FSO Instruments to produce laser satellite communication technology. This builds on technology developed by the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, known as TNO

“Our goal is to build a European ecosystem for fast and secure laser satellite communications, with significant Dutch input, that the world cannot ignore,” commented Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi chairman of the board and CEO of TNO.

This is the first laser satellite communications technology company in the Netherlands. Led by Director Gus van der Feltz, the FSO Instruments joint venture plans to commercialize the technology and introduce space-qualified products. 

“We build single units or at most a few systems, while the demand for laser satellite communications is expected to be in the hundreds and perhaps even in the thousands. That is a business for companies,” said Hans Priem, business manager at VDL ETG. “TNO excels in developing concepts. We are expanding on this to produce what the market wants in terms of functionality, costs and reliability, in part through means of redesign for practicability and, of course, production.”

TNO has developed and built optical instrumentation for space use, particularly for astronomy and Earth observation. TNO recently signed a deal with Sidus Space to deploy its HemiCAT miniature laser communications terminal on a Sidus LizzieSat satellite for an in-orbit demonstration mission. TNO announced March 22 that it signed Raytheon Missiles & Defense (RMD) and AAC Hyperion, part of AAC Clyde Space, as a partner for the project. 

In addition, Airbus and VDL Group recently announced a partnership to develop and manufacture the UltraAir laser communication terminal for aircraft, to exchange data between aircraft, satellites, and ground terminals.