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DLR and Tesat laser terminal paves way for high-speed data transfer from space
The PIXL-1 small satellite can acquire images of the Earth with a high-resolution camera and send them to the Optical Ground Station Oberpfaffenhofen with the CubeLCT via a laser link.
DLR and Tesat laser terminal paves way for high-speed data transfer from space
by Staff Writers
Berlin, Germany (SPX) Oct 31, 2023

The increasing congestion of data transmission due to the surge in small satellite deployments has been a lingering issue in the aerospace sector. A collaborative effort between the German Aerospace Center Institute of Communications and Navigation (DLR) and Tesat-Spacecom GmbH and Co. KG TESAT has provided a robust solution. They have successfully developed and tested OSIRIS4CubeSat, a compact laser communications terminal explicitly designed for microsatellites, setting new standards in compact design and high-speed data transfer.

"This success is the result of our many years of research in the field of optical satellite communications," said Florian David, Director of the DLR Institute of Communications and Navigation. "It demonstrates the impressive potential for designing small, light, and at the same time powerful optical satellite terminals. This is an important building block for future satellite systems, for example for Earth observation or in megaconstellations."

Setting the Standard for Compact Design
CubeSats have become increasingly popular for their standardized dimensions and modular nature. Each cube-shaped unit measures 10 cm on each side and can be modularly expanded. Aligned with this standard, the OSIRIS4CubeSat terminal features a patented design that uses an electronic circuit board as a mechanical foundation for the optical elements. The new design configuration achieves compactness without compromising performance--a significant leap for an industry prioritizing cost-efficiency.

The terminal was first launched aboard the CubeL satellite as part of the PIXL-1 mission on January 24, 2021. Subsequent rigorous testing has confirmed its reliability and error-free functionality in space, proving it to be more than an experimental novelty.

Outperforming Traditional Radio Systems
Data rates are a crucial aspect for any communication system, and the OSIRIS4CubeSat terminal does not disappoint. It achieves data rates of up to 100 megabits per second, outperforming traditional radio systems. It is unaffected by electromagnetic interference and negates channel crosstalk, which is a common drawback in conventional radio channels.

"This underlines the great opportunities that arise from cooperation between research and industry in Germany," said Siegbert Martin, Chief Technology Officer at TESAT.

This technological edge is of particular importance as it simplifies the often complex approval processes from regulatory bodies such as the Federal Network Agency and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Data Security and Integration
For data transmission to Earth, the terminal utilizes encoding procedures developed at DLR. These procedures ensure zero-loss transmission and protect the data from atmospheric disruptions. Notably, the CubeL satellite and its OSIRIS4CubeSat terminal have been successfully integrated into the German Space Operations Center's (GSOC) existing infrastructure. This marks a crucial step towards the streamlined operation of future microsatellite missions.

Commercial Readiness
Even before the PIXL-1 mission's completion, Tesat had incorporated the technology into its commercial product line. Now available under the names 'CubeLCT' and 'SCOT20,' these terminals are not just experimental but are ready for broader industrial applications. This positions the technology for use on a wide variety of future satellite missions, fulfilling both research and commercial needs.

The introduction of the OSIRIS4CubeSat terminal addresses multiple challenges--from data congestion to regulatory bottlenecks--making it an integral part of the next generation of satellite systems. Its success signifies the growing synergy between research initiatives and commercial applications, marking a substantial forward step in the rapidly evolving aerospace sector.

ai.spacedaily.com analysis
Relevance Scores:

1. Space Industry Analyst: 9/10
2. Stock and Finance Market Analyst: 7/10
3. Government Policy Analyst: 8/10

Comprehensive Analyst Summary:

The article details a significant advancement in space technology - the development and successful testing of OSIRIS4CubeSat, a compact laser communications terminal explicitly designed for microsatellites. This joint venture between the German Aerospace Center Institute of Communications and Navigation (DLR) and Tesat-Spacecom GmbH and Co. KG TESAT addresses the pressing issue of data transmission congestion caused by the proliferation of small satellites.

Space Industry:

For space industry analysts, this is a crucial development. The technology enables high-volume, interference-free data transmission, essential for Earth observation and the growth of satellite megaconstellations. It stands as a pivotal leap towards achieving better performance for microsatellites without sacrificing compactness - a significant selling point in an industry that is cost-conscious and always striving for efficiency.

Stock and Finance:

From a financial perspective, this development has the potential to yield considerable profits for companies like Tesat, who have already integrated the technology into their commercial product offerings. The technology also offers a commercial edge for satellite services, including Earth imaging and communications, possibly driving increased stock value for companies investing in these small satellites.

Government Policy:

For policy analysts, the technology simplifies the approval process by avoiding the electromagnetic interference and channel crosstalk issues associated with conventional radio channels. This means faster approvals from regulatory bodies like the Federal Network Agency and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), facilitating a smoother implementation of future space projects.

25-year Sector Overview:

Over the last 25 years, we have seen the miniaturization of satellites and the rise of private space companies. However, data transmission has often been a bottleneck. This development is, thus, in line with the industry's focus on miniaturization, while it also solves a longstanding problem. It correlates well with the increasing commercialization of space and the growing relevance of small satellites in Earth observation, scientific research, and national security.

Investigative Questions:

1. What is the expected market size for the OSIRIS4CubeSat terminals, and how will it impact Tesat's stock prices?

2. How will regulatory bodies like the ITU respond to this new technology in terms of allocating data channels?

3. What are the defense implications of this technology, especially concerning data security and anti-jamming capabilities?

4. How will this development affect ongoing and future megaconstellation projects like Starlink and OneWeb?

5. Could this technology become a new industry standard, and if so, what steps must be taken to achieve that?

By addressing these questions, analysts can gain a more thorough understanding of this groundbreaking development's implications across multiple sectors.

Related Links
Institute of Communications and Navigation,
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

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