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Boeing Laser Communications Unit Advances For TSAT

By | August 7, 2006

      Boeing [BA] successfully tested a key laser component of the Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT), the company announced.

      This netting system involves links from one satellite to another using a laser beam, in a move to help ensure reliable, continuous military communications.

      Boeing performed the test using a laser beam in a simulated space environment, in a test performed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratories.

      This was the third of four planned laser communication milestone demonstrations, according to Boeing.

      It tested the Boeing hardware for performance and compatibility with the new government Lasercom Interoperability Standard, as well as performance readiness of the Boeing TSAT optical modems.

      The lab rated the free-space optical link operation at speeds up to 40 gigabits per second, permitting broadcast of 3,000 simultaneous high-definition TV channels, or about 15,000 regular TV channels, in each direction.

      TSAT will provide secure, high capacity networking among U.S. forces worldwide, and to their command, intelligence and support functions at home, according to John Peterson, Boeing TSAT space segment program director.

      This is ensured through a 10 to 40 gigabit per second TSAT backbone, he added.

      Another key element in the TSAT program is the Pointing, Acquisition and Tracking (PAT) subsystem that enables effective use of the Lasercom beam, according to Boeing. PAT provides significant advantages in transmitted power, the company added, using Ball Aerospace & Technology algorithms and beam control technology.

      Proving this level of performance and maturity at this point in the program signals risk reduction for the later acquisition and operations phase, according to Peterson.

      This laser experiment was sponsored by the MILSATCOM Joint Program Office and the National Reconnaissance Office. Boeing and its team are working under a $514 million Air Force contract for the risk reduction system definition phase of the TSAT space segment program.

      The Air Force plans to select a contractor for the segment in December next year.

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