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Tesat Delivers Optical Terminals for SDA Tranche 1 to Lockheed Martin 

By Rachel Jewett | December 1, 2023

Tesat’s headquarters in Germany. Photo: Tesat

Tesat delivered the first optical communications terminals to Lockheed Martin for the Space Development Agency’s Tranche 1 Transport Layer, the company announced Dec. 1. Lockheed will integrate the Tesat terminals on 42 small satellites that the company is building for the SDA’s data transport layer. 

These terminals recently completed ground interoperability tests for the SDA program, demonstrating consistent data communication links with a reference modem and an optical terminal made by another supplier.

Tesat said its SDA Tranche 1 optical terminals have an improved design, with a  dual electronics unit that combines two optical heads with one electronic unit (EU), to save weight and space on satellite payloads with a transmission rate of 2.5 Gbps. 

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor to build 42 Tranche 1 Transport Layer satellites, which will provide global communications regional encrypted connectivity. Each space vehicle must be equipped with: an optical communications terminals enabling a minimum of four simultaneous optical communications links. Terran Orbital is building the satellite buses for Lockheed Martin, and MDA is building the antennas and antenna control electronics. 

Tesat reported it currently has 46 optical communication terminals in orbit on the SDA’s Tranche 0 satellite network, which launched earlier this year. Tesat said it has delivered a total of 58 OCTs to five different manufacturers, and 48 of those are on orbit (46 of those for the SDA). 

The company also said it is ramping up production capacity on its optical terminals, opening a new manufacturing site, in order to deliver terminals for Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations.