NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) roadmap for 2025 and beyond shows the need for optical links for Earth, lunar, inter-planetary, and relay networks requiring 10-100x higher data rates than current state-of-the-art space-based optical communications systems. Future laser communications system requirements include data rates >1 Gbps downlink from planetary bodies, and >100 Gbps low-geosynchronous earth orbit (LEO-GEO) networks. To support high-data-rate communications for long-range GEO and inter-planetary missions, a new class of laser communications transmitter is required with high average power (>20 W), high efficiency (>20%), and high peak power (>1 kW)—and capable of 16-ary and 128-ary pulse position modulation (PPM) formats. Wavelength-division multiplexed (WDM) systems must also have output power that is spectrally flat with minimal cross-talk.
Fibertek proposes to develop and demonstrate a high λ-channel count (up to 20 channels), gain-flat, high power, spaceflight prototype transmitter with an innovative Four Wave Mixing (FWM) mitigation capability or deep space optical communication (DSOC) links. High power, multi-wavelength channel fiber amplifiers are fundamentally limited in channel count scaling to 4 channels and power scaling due to FWM non-linearities causing Pulse Energy Variation (PEV). Our innovative approach effectively mitigates FWM resulting in compact, efficient, reliable and space-qualifiable system. These enhancements increase the data capacity scaling by >10x over the current state of the art high power WDM transmitter enabling the next generation of high speed DSOC links.
NASA SCaN (Space Communications and Navigation Program) roadmap to enable large science data volume returns from deep space missions. NASA exploration mission to Mars, planets and asteroid belts will benefit from much higher data rates and longer ranges than the current state of the art. NASA initiatives to support large 100G + core GEO networks. High-data rate, multi-channel laser transmitters, enable high-volume data link for science missions, hyper-spectral imaging, JPSS (Joint Polar Satellite System), Landsat, and radar/lidar missions.
This effort supports the need for large data volume DoD and commercial GEO inter-satellite networks and high data volume downlink and LCRD (Lunar Communication Relay Demonstrator) style relay.