June 16, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA
Space

Kepler Communications successfully tests optical links between satellites

Kepler Communications announced today that it has successfully tested optical inter-satellite links (OISL) between two data relay satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO).

The test was designed in part to showcase the use of the Space Development Agency (SDA). standards (PDF) and compatible optical terminals. Kepler said: “During a commissioning and initial operations phase, Kepler established inter-satellite optical links between two Pathfinder satellites equipped with Space Development Agency (SDA)-compatible Tesat SCOT80 optical terminals.”

Kepler launched the two Pathfinder satellites, ÆTHER-1 and ÆTHER-2, on November 11, 2023 on the SpaceX Falcon 9 Transporter-9 co-passenger mission.

Kepler said the spacecraft underwent “extensive commissioning and verification” ahead of “the optical test campaign of recent weeks.”

They added: “The first file transferred over the optical connection was a recent photograph of the global Kepler team gathered near its headquarters in Toronto, Canada. In the first week of testing, the company successfully sent diagnostic data between the two spacecraft and demonstrated full link performance to the SDA standard. Additionally, multiple acquisition scenarios were tested and both the terminal and the spacecraft performed optimally.”

Mina Mitry, CEO and co-founder of Kepler, said of the tests: “Kepler is proud to have made significant progress in creating the critical Internet infrastructure needed to solve the complex data needs in space. This OISL achievement is a testament to the hard work, determination and brilliance of our Kepler team. The Kepler Network will act as a data transport layer, bringing modern Internet capabilities to space through an interoperable architecture that will revolutionize space communications as we know it. .”

Kepler also demonstrated “the Internet Protocol (IP) mesh network in orbit communicating with multiple satellites in real time over a single terrestrial link, using standard protocols including Secure Shell (SSH), Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). ) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP). ).”

The company expects to offer initial optical services in 2025, but has not released any updates on future satellite launches for its next-generation constellation. Kepler has recently relied on SpaceX Transporter rideshare missions for its launch and those satellites appear on the manifest at the last minute.

SpaceX has two Transporter missions scheduled for the rest of this year, Transporter-11 in July and Transporter-12 in October. After that, Transporter-13 is scheduled for February NET. 2025. Kepler has 21 RF satellites in orbit along with the two satellites in the next-generation Pathfinder constellation.

The company said it has begun production of the first tranche of 10 next-generation data relay satellites.

Kepler will develop a high-bandwidth optical communications network in low Earth orbit (LEO) for ESA's High Performance Optical Network (HydRON) programme.  Image credit: Kepler Communications.
Kepler will develop a high-bandwidth optical communications network in low Earth orbit (LEO) for ESA's High Performance Optical Network (HydRON) programme. Image credit: Kepler Communications.

In April Kepler signed a agreement with TESAT-Spacecom and Airbus Defense and Space as partners to develop a high-bandwidth optical communications network in low Earth orbit (LEO).

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