Tag Archive for: LaserCommunications

The Chinese satellite manufacturer and constellation operator, Changguang Satellite Technology (CGST), has successfully demonstrated space-to-ground high-speed laser communications. This breakthrough could help China overcome data transmission bottlenecks and significantly improve the speed and efficiency of getting data from space down to the ground.

The test was conducted using CGST’s Jilin-1 MF02A04 remote sensing satellite in cooperation with the Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). CGST is an offshoot of the state-owned Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics (CIOMP), which is under the umbrella of CAS.

During the test, the connection speeds achieved an ultra-high-speed of 10 Gbps, which is a significant improvement compared to the previous best of 1 Gbps using radio frequency transmissions. This breakthrough signals numerous advancements in key technologies and marks the first ultra-high-speed (10Gbps) application for commercial purposes in China.

CGST, established in 2014, currently operates 108 remote sensing satellites in orbit. The company plans to expand its Jilin-1 constellation to include 300 satellites by the year 2025. With this technology, CGST aims to enhance its data transmission capabilities and support a wide range of applications, including remote sensing and Earth observation.

The successful demonstration of space-to-ground high-speed laser communications by Changguang Satellite Technology (CGST) and the Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) involved the development of several key technologies. These technologies include atmospheric channel prediction, task planning and scheduling, rapid capture, signal chain construction, adaptive optical correction of laser signals, and error-free transmission under complex atmospheric conditions.

The Jilin-1 satellites, operated by CGST, generally provide panchromatic imagery with resolutions between 0.50 and 0.75 meters. Other satellites in the Jilin-1 constellation have various capabilities, including video, multispectral, multipurpose, and infrared imaging. During the transmission tests, CGST published images delivered to Earth, showcasing the capabilities of their system.

This breakthrough is expected to enhance China’s space information network by improving the transmission capacity and security. As China plans to expand its low Earth orbit satellite constellations, the use of high-speed laser communications, along with potential inter-satellite laser links, can help overcome challenges associated with limited global ground station infrastructure.

It’s worth noting that while the tests demonstrated the accuracy of narrow beam optical transmissions of data through the atmosphere, Chinese sources did not mention details regarding the development of cost-effective optical terminals, which are essential for the practical implementation of laser communications technology. However, this successful demonstration marks a significant step forward for China in the field of high-speed space-to-ground data transmission.


Sony has formed a company to develop laser communications equipment for small satellites, drawing on optical disc technology it pioneered for CD players and other devices.

The Japanese conglomerate said June 2 it founded Sony Space Communications (SSC) in San Mateo, California, to help companies avoid running out of radio waves as the number of satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) soars.

SSC plans to develop, build and supply devices that would enable small satellites to use laser beams instead of radio frequencies to communicate with ground stations — and each other for real-time connectivity.

The volume of data used in LEO is increasing every year but the amount of radio waves is limited, SSC president Kyohei Iwamoto said in a statement.

“Additionally, the need for frequency licenses for radio waves and the requirement for lower power consumption of communication equipment needed by smaller satellites, like micro satellites, are also issues to be addressed,” he said.

Conventional radio communications need larger satellite antennas and more power than optical networks, Sony said, making it “physically difficult” to achieve high speeds on small satellites.

Sony said it has been researching and developing optical communications systems that are small enough to fit microsatellites, which NASA defines as spacecraft between 10 and 100 kilograms.

The company did not say when its devices could be available or if it had customers lined up for the technology.

SSC plans to apply its optical disc technology to create satellite communication devices that are ultra-compact, lightweight, mass-producible and able to withstand harsh conditions in space.

In 2020, Sony said an optical communications device it developed in cooperation with Japan’s space agency was installed on Kibo, the Japanese experimental module on the International Space Station.

According to Sony, SOLISS, or Small Optical Link for International Space Station, established a bidirectional laser communications link with a space optical communication ground station in Japan, and successfully transmitted high-definition image data.

Sony also said it successfully conducted a data file transfer experiment this year that it says provides “the technological basis” for internet services through LEO optical communications.

MynaricCACITesat and other companies are also building out optical space businesses as laser communications technology matures.

Japan-based startup Warpspace is developing an inter-satellite laser communications system, and is also establishing a U.S. presence as it seeks to partner with American companies and compete for government and military contracts.