The objectives of this study are:
System and sub-system performance requirements for the next generation of optical inter-satellite links and a development roadmap for the critical enabling technologies.
Optical inter-satellite links have recently been demonstrated in orbit, offering a user data rate of 1.8Gbit/s. This data rate is compatible with current user needs (e.g., TanDEM-X requiring ~1 Tbit/day; Sentinel-1 requiring ~10 Tbit/day). However, to support data retrieval and repatriation for future earth observation satellites with increased instrument performance (e.g. spatial resolution, temporal sampling, multispectral/hyperspectral remote sensing, wide field of view), it is forecasted that the user data rate needs to be boosted by at least one order of magnitude (i.e. 10 20 Gbit/s).
The number of users to be served(earth observation satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles) is also expected to increase, which will require, in additional to an increase of the user data rate of the optical return service, a reduction of the time required to establish communications (e.g. minimisere-pointing time and link acquisition time) in order to maximise the overall data throughput.
This activity aims to establish thesystem and sub-system performance requirements for the next generation of optical inter-satellite links (GEO-LEO, GEO-GEO) and to establish a development roadmap for the critical enabling technologies, taking into account the aspects outlined above and the expectations of commercial end users.