State-of-the-Art Optical Modem for ESA and DLR

Digital Optical Ground Station, News, Press Release

WORK Microwave to Develop State-of-the-Art Optical Modem for European Space Agency and German Aerospace Center

Modem Enables Optical Space-to-Ground Communication Via Laser Link at a Very High Throughput Rate With Secure Data Connection.

WORK Microwave, a leading European manufacturer of advanced satellite communications equipment, today announced that the European Space Agency (ESA), with the support of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), has awarded WORK Microwave a contract to develop a state-of-the-art optical modem for space-to-ground communication as part of the ARTES Strategic Programme Line for Optical and Quantum Communication – ScyLight and its technology development  program. WORK Microwave’s modem will enable optical communication between space and Earth at a very high throughput rate with secure data connection to satisfy a growing demand for institutional and commercial space missions.

Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said: “Optical communications in space are essential to ensuring the safety and security of citizens on Earth, as set out in ESA’s Agenda 2025. Within ARTES we support ScyLight product-oriented development and enhancing the maturity of Optical Communication in space.

Over the last 10 or more years, there has been an increased focus in space-based optical communication from institutional and commercial users aiming for the high throughput and secure connection that optical links provide,” said Dr. Harald Hauschildt, ScyLight Strategic Programme Line (SPL) Manager at ESA. “We have tapped WORK Microwave to develop a full-stack optical modem for multi-mission support and to demonstrate future technical standards in optical space-to-ground communication based on their extensive knowledge of the technology.

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WORK Microwave’s State-of-the-Art Optical Modem for ESA and DLR, designed to support the processing of optical links between space and Earth.

The objective of the multi-mission optical modem project (M3O) is to develop a suite of prototype products for receiving an Optical-On-Off-Keyed (O3K) laser waveform from spacecrafts. WORK Microwave’s modem will be a key element in the world’s first full-stack optical ground station solution that provides space-to-ground communication via an optical laser link, offering an extensive feature set and support for a wide range of specifications, including the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) standards. The optical modem will support data rates from 100 Mbps to 10 Gbps, with CCSDS modulation, synchronisation, and coding per O3K standards. In addition, the modem is being designed with soft decision input modality, scalable data buffering, and is ready to support the High Photon Efficiency CCSDS standard for deep space missions.

WORK Microwave is committed to bringing a high-speed optical modem to market that is geared towards the commercial industry,” said Thomas Fröhlich, CEO of WORK Microwave. “Our company has a history of advancing optical communication, as demonstrated by our early-phase optical modem product launch and our contribution to the optical standards in the CCSDS working group. Our innovation track record for quickly adapting new technology to the ever-evolving requirements of the satellite communication industry helped us secure this development deal with ESA and DLR.