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TSAT Team Moves Closer To Developing Flight-Ready Laser Terminals

TSAT is the military's next-generation protected, wideband satellite communications system for military and intelligence users.
by Staff Writers
Redondo Beach CA (SPX) Apr 25, 2007
The Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT) team has reported that functional interoperability aspects of its laser communications risk reduction subsystem have been evaluated in a test conducted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/LL). The testing demonstrated the operation of the laser communication brassboard hardware and software at 2.5, 10 and 40 Gbps.

TSAT is the military's next-generation protected, wideband satellite communications system for military and intelligence users. Using high-speed optical communications (lasercom), Internet Protocol network routing, and communications-on-the-move capability, TSAT will provide a dramatic increase in connectivity, speed and mobility for future warfighters. The lasercom milestone moves the team's TSAT efforts a major step forward, providing high confidence in this critical technology.

"Our team met the demanding performance criteria required for the next generation of military communications satellites to send and receive data using laser links. Once again we have proven our strength in developing and maturing technology for TSAT, as well as the soundness of our risk management processes," said Alexis Livanos, president of Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector.

"With a focus on mission success, our team continues to make solid progress in advancing the technologies that will deliver unprecedented new communications capabilities for the warfighter," said Mark Pasquale, Lockheed Martin's TSAT vice president. "We look forward to our continued sustained performance in preparing for the next phase and helping our customer achieve mission success on this sophisticated system."

Lasercom Test (LCT) 2 was completed in early March and was the third in a series of incremental laser communications tests using the MIT/LL Optical Standards Validation Suite (OSVS) test bed. These latest tests evaluated the pointing, tracking, and communication performance and interoperability of the Northrop Grumman brassboard lasercom terminal with the OSVS at data rates ranging from 2.5 Gbps to 40 Gbps, demonstrating a low-risk path to flight.

Laser terminals communicate by sending modulated beams of light rather than radio signals. For the highest data rates needed by U.S. warfighters, laser terminals are smaller and more cost effective than radio frequency terminals. The beam width of a lasercom terminal is extremely small, requiring precision pointing, scanning and tracking performance to lock on to and communicate with another terminal mounted on a spacecraft up to 50,000 miles away.

The team is now gearing up to further demonstrate its technological and systems engineering and integration strengths for TSAT at a Space Segment Design Review planned for April 2007.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif., serves as the prime contractor. Northrop Grumman is responsible for the communications payload, including laser and radio-frequency communications and on-board processing. The U.S. Air Force is managing the program at the MILSATCOM Systems Wing, located at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.

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Marlborough MA (SPX) Apr 17, 2007
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