GA-ASI and TESAT Partner to Develop RPA-to-spacecraft Lasercom Link
System Expected to Improve Data Bandwidth Significantly
BERLIN AIR SHOW – 12 September 2012 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), tactical reconnaissance radars, and electro-optic surveillance systems, and Tesat-Spacecom, a world leader of space-based laser communication, today announced that they have signed a teaming agreement to combine their expertise in the field of RPA laser communication (lasercom) to demonstrate a high-rate RPA-to-spacecraft lasercom link.
“New sensors and increased RPA usage will create an increased bandwidth demand for RPA-to-ground communication in the near future, exceeding currently installed RF [Radio Frequency] communication capabilities,” said Linden Blue, president, Reconnaissance Systems Group, GA-ASI. “With the potential to increase data rates by 1,000 times, a lasercom link offers a next-generation alternative to radio Satcom [Satellite communications], and Tesat’s involvement with the U.S.-German program that has validated space-to-space and space-to-ground laser data links at very high data rates makes them the ideal partner for this new venture.”
Today’s RPA rely on RF links to transmit sensor data from an RPA. A high-bandwidth optical link between an above-the-weather RPA and a GEO satellite offers a secure, jamming-resistant, alternative to Ku- and Ka-Band data links.
“LaserCom enables the capability to integrate air- and space-based wideband Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance [ISR] systems into national command and control systems in a way that was previously not possible,” said Peter Schlote, CEO of Tesat-Spacecom GMBH & Co. KG.
Under the agreement, GA-ASI will solicit government support to demonstrate an optical laser subsystem. Tesat’s role will be to support the Laser Communication Terminal (LCT) systems engineering and deliver a data link controller to handle the data transfer between the RPA and a communication satellite.
Following development, the team plans to demonstrate the capabilities of the lasercom system via a 2.6 GB/sec uplink to an available Low Earth Orbit (LEO) spacecraft. The follow-on prototype will use the Alphasat satellite’s Alphabus LCT in a geo-stationary orbit, verifying a high-bandwidth, RPA-to-ground data capability.
An operational concept diagram is available upon request to qualified media outlets from the GA-ASI media contact listed below.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., an affiliate of General Atomics, delivers situational awareness by providing remotely piloted aircraft, radar, and electro-optic solutions for military and commercial applications worldwide. The company’s Aircraft Systems Group is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable remotely piloted aircraft systems, including Predator® A, Predator B, Gray Eagle®, and the new Predator C Avenger®. It also manufactures a variety of solid-state digital Ground Control Stations (GCS), including the next-generation Advanced Cockpit GCS, and provides pilot training and support services for RPA field operations. The Reconnaissance Systems Group designs, manufactures, and integrates the Lynx® Multi-mode Radar and sophisticated Claw® sensor control and image analysis software into both manned and remotely piloted aircraft. It also develops and integrates other sensor and communication equipment into manned ISR aircraft and develops emerging technologies in solid-state lasers, electro-optic sensors, and ultra-wideband data links for government applications. For more information, please visit www.ga-asi.com.
Over the course of four decades, Tesat-Spacecom has developed in-depth expertise in manufacturing of payload equipment for communication satellites and has established itself as a clear European market leader. On its 52.000m² premises in Backnang, Germany, the more than 1,200 employees develop, assemble, integrate, and test systems and equipment for telecommunication via satellite. To date, more than 500 space projects have been completed. Tesat’s product offerings encompass highly reliable equipment as for example the travelling wave tube amplifiers, multiplexers, waveguide switches, modulators, and laser communication terminals, which along with complete systems are delivered globally to all leading satellite manufacturers.
Predator, Gray Eagle, Avenger, Lynx, and Claw are registered trademarks of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
Additional information on the agreement may be obtained by contacting the following:
Tesat-Spacecom GmbH & Co. KG
For more information contact:
Public Relations Manager
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.