A laser satellite communications panel at the 2019 Directed Energy Summit discussed the near-term future of laser satcom, as it is commonly known. Just as high energy lasers and radio frequency (RF) weapons are beginning their transition to warfighters, so too are laser optical communication systems rapidly becoming a reality.
The laser satcom panelists explored the benefits, promises, challenges, and level of technical maturity that has been developed, along with the scope of potential applications. Preview the speakers and their topics below; view the entire panel discussion.
Dr. Linda Thomas is a senior research engineer at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).
“Since the invention of the laser in 1960, people have been thinking about how to modulate it for communications purposes. [NRL] went down the path of building easier to use tactical systems for the warfighter down at the tactical edge. We’ve been researching shipboard and ground laser communication, and we can apply those same techniques up to the space layer as we take the tactical edge and push it up to space.”
Barry Matsumori is the CEO of BridgeSat.
“Optical communications can complement what’s out there in RF and provide even broader capability to service all the needs that are coming.”
Don Brown is the General Manager, Government Services for Telesat.
“What’s the horizon for this new world of optical communications in space?” According to Don, “We’re here to talk about immediate commercial imperatives that are driving our interest in optical satellite communications. Optical communications are an excellent commercial tool because what you want to do is provide global connectivity through low-earth orbit.”
Dr. David Czajkowski is the president, COO and co-founder of Space Micro.
“What our expertise has been for the last 20 to 30 years is taking commercial electronics that might come out of your laptop, your phone, your networks, and putting them into space systems…that will meet all the requirements of a national asset for [the Department of Defense], commercial, or civil, like NASA.”