Nasa awards contract to EOS’s SpaceLink satellite system

Electro Optic Systems’ SpaceLink satellite subsidiary has been awarded a contract by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) to study how the company’s proposed commercial optical satellite ground terminals will integrate into the Near Space Network.

The funded study includes a demonstration of end-to-end transport of multi-source data at the SpaceLink gateway in the Mojave Desert.

The NASA contract is the third from a US space or defence agency into the SpaceLink system.

In August it was selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Strategic Technology Office (STO) to develop its SpaceLink system with the US military, while it also entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command Technical Center (USASMDC-TC) in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

SpaceLink plans a satellite relay system for Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), with both laser optical and RF links to speed the flow of remote sensing data and communications between satellites gathering data in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and ground receivers.

At the same time such a system of near-Earth communications relay satellites could augment the US national security space architecture.

SpaceLink Chief Technology Officer Rob Singh said: “Developing our data transport system has pushed the SpaceLink architecture team to optimise across space, ground, client, and network segments, and to address challenges associated with optical high-capacity data delivery solutions.

“SpaceLink is excited to explore innovative solutions that can help inform and guide NASA towards the successful commercialization of the Near Space Network services.”

As part of the study, SpaceLink will identify the barriers, challenges, and solutions associated with integration of optical communications ground terminals into the Near Space Network architecture.

The technical demonstration consists of an end-to-end test of multi-source data moving from SpaceLink’s Mojave Gateway facility to NASA’s terrestrial network using Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure.

SpaceLink previously selected the Mojave Air & Space Port at Rutan Field as the location for its primary Gateway in the United States.

Its RF and optical terminals will be built on a five-acre parcel with redundant high-capacity fiber backhaul to densely interconnected data centers (Carrier Hotels) in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

SpaceLink is establishing its Gateway Development Lab at the Mojave facility to support system development, demonstrations such as the one for NASA GSFC, and for on-boarding high-capacity data relay service customers.

CIS Deputy Office Chief at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Dr. Ruma Das said: “SpaceLink has demonstrated current and state of the art experience and technologies for space-based optical communication link and services.

“We selected SpaceLink for the capabilities study award based on its considerable organisational capabilities and highly-qualified key personnel for information related to Optical Communications and road mapping to ground segment integration techniques and concepts.”

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Image: SpaceLink

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