SmallCAT Laser Terminal Demonstrates Effective Space-Earth Communication in LEO | Space

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SmallCAT Laser Terminal Demonstrates Effective Space-Earth Communication in LEO. by Sophie Jenkins. Edinburgh UK (SPX) Jan 30, 2024.

In a significant advancement in space communication technology, AAC Clyde Space, in collaboration with TNO and other partners, have together demonstrated the functionality of a compact laser satellite communications terminal, known as SmallCAT, in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). This accomplishment marks a crucial step in validating laser satellite communication technology under the challenging conditions of spaceflight.

AAC Clyde Space, a pioneer in small satellite technology, contributed essential electronics and firmware to the laser communication terminal. This collaboration underscores the company’s commitment to staying at the forefront of space tech development. Luis Gomes, CEO of AAC Clyde Space, emphasized the growing demand for direct laser communication between satellites and Earth, catering to diverse sectors. “This achievement points towards the future of space-based communication,” Gomes stated, highlighting the strategic direction of the company.

The development of this satellite communication terminal was a joint effort. The project was led by TNO and included AAC Hyperion, a subsidiary of the AAC Group based in the Netherlands specializing in optical communications, responsible for the onboard electronics, drivers, and software. Gooch and Housego contributed the laser transmitter. Financial backing for the project came from the Netherlands Space Office (NSO) through the ESA ARTES ScyLight Programme and the Dutch Ministry of Defense’s innovation budget, with additional co-funding from TNO.

A noteworthy component of the project was the delivery of AAC Hyperion’s gigabit detector, the GD200, for the optical ground station in The Hague. This ground station successfully detected signals from the terminal aboard the Norwegian NORSAT-TD satellite, launched in April 2023. This successful detection is a…

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