The First Time Laser Communications Demonstrated From CubeSats

The Aerospace Corporation (Aerospace) with the sensor Demonstration (OCSD) mission and optical communications announced a milestone. The laser communication process carried by the low-earth orbiting OCSD CubeSats, known as AeroCube-7B and Aerocube-7C, transmitted successfully data at a rate of 100 megabits per second. This is 50 times more than a typical communication process for the spacecraft size. 

Steve Isakowitz, Aerospace president, and CEO said that this is a vital accomplishment, given that high-speed laser communication is done from larger satellite systems. He said their talented engineers continue to explain that they are on the leading edge of innovation. He is proud of this excellent experiment by the Aerocube team. When laser communications have been implemented in big commercial satellite systems, this is the foremost step for using laser communications in small platforms like CubeSats. 

Todd Rose, the OCSD optical communications lead said that the optical communications of space-to-ground from a free-flying CubeSat have to be involved in this demonstration. This latest technology uses free-space laser communication systems, these are lighter, smaller and provide higher data and increased security as compared to the presently used radio frequency systems. 

Dr. Siegfried Janson, one of the principal investigators for OCSD said that these CubeSats are perfectly ground-breaking and they believe this research will have applications in different technologies and mission areas. He and the Aerospace small satellite group designed and built the OCSD spacecraft and now taking these smallsats through their paces on orbit. 

Each OCSD laser satellite is hard-mounted, that means the entire satellite should rotate. This exclusive design simplifies the laser communications system by emitting beam steering mirrors instead harness a highly rightly control system to point the satellite when downloading data. This control system includes tiny star trackers and allows spacecraft to point 0.025 degrees accuracy. This attitude control system is forty times more actual than previous possible satellite size. 

Aerospace completed maneuver proximity and bought OECD satellites within 20feet of each technology demonstration. The pair of OCSD determined a relation to each other by using GPS receivers on board.  Cost effective cameras, beacons, and laser rangefinders will be used in recently proximity demonstrations. To manage their movement, the OCSD satellites use a novel propulsion system, designed at  Aerospace. This uses water as a propellant. The advantage of using water instead of hazardous chemicals it is safer for other payloads on the same launch.