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posted by janrinok on Tuesday February 06, @06:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the space-lasers dept.

https://www.pcmag.com/news/starlinks-laser-system-is-beaming-42-million-gb-of-data-per-day

SpaceX's laser system for Starlink is delivering over 42 petabytes of data for customers per day, an engineer revealed today. That translates into 42 million gigabytes.

"We're passing over terabits per second [of data] every day across 9,000 lasers," SpaceX engineer Travis Brashears said today at SPIE Photonics West, an event in San Francisco focused on the latest advancements in optics and light.

[...] Although Starlink uses radio waves to beam high-speed internet to customers, SpaceX has also been outfitting the company's satellites with a "laser link" system to help drive down latency and improve the system's global coverage.

[...] Brashears also said Starlink's laser system was able to connect two satellites over 5,400 kilometers (3,355 miles) apart. The link was so long "it cut down through the atmosphere, all the way down to 30 kilometers above the surface of the Earth," he said, before the connection broke.

"Another really fun fact is that we held a link all the way down to 122 kilometers while we were de-orbiting a satellite," he said. "And we were able to downstream the video."

[...] For the future, SpaceX plans on expanding its laser system so that it can be ported and installed on third-party satellites. The company has also explored beaming the satellite lasers directly to terminals on the Earth's surface to deliver data. But Brashears said a "deeper study" is necessary to enable the technology.

Related stories on SoylentNews:
Sony to Build Space Lasers With New Satellite Services Unit - 20220606
CubeSat Set to Demonstrate NASA's Fastest Laser Link from Space - 20220530
DoD Space Agency Funds Development of Laser Terminal that Connects to Multiple Satellite at Once - 20220313
Exploring Together, NASA and Industry Embrace Laser Communications - 20211130
SpaceX Paused Starlink Launches to Give its Internet Satellites Lasers - 20210826


Original Submission

Related Stories

SpaceX Paused Starlink Launches to Give its Internet Satellites Lasers 34 comments

SpaceX paused Starlink launches to give its internet satellites lasers

SpaceX hasn't launched any Starlink internet satellites since June. It turns out it's because the company has been adding "lasers" to the spacecraft.

[...] "We're flying a number of laser terminals right now in space," Shotwell said, adding that SpaceX is now working to integrate lasers into all of its Starlink satellites.

"That's why we have been struggling for six or eight weeks — we wanted the next set to have laser terminals on them," Shotwell said.

[...] With this technology, SpaceX hopes that ground stations on Earth won't be necessary with every batch of satellites as part of the constellation. Making this change could allow satellite internet coverage to reach areas where ground stations cannot be built, Shotwell explained.

The recent launch lull won't last much longer


Original Submission

Exploring Together, NASA and Industry Embrace Laser Communications 4 comments

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Our televisions and computer screens display news, movies, and shows in high-definition, allowing viewers a clear and vibrant experience. Fiber optic connections send laser light densely packed with data through cables to bring these experiences to users.

NASA and commercial aerospace companies are applying similar technologies to space communications, bringing optical speeds to the final frontier. Free-space optical communications leverages recent advancements in telecommunications to allow spacecraft to send high-resolution images and videos over laser links.

"Free-space" refers to the absence of the insulated, fiber optic cables that enable the terrestrial internet. Free-space laser communications flow freely through the vacuum of space, however atmosphere poses unique challenges to communications engineers.

NASA's Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will send data to and from ground stations and, eventually, in-space user missions over laser links.

DoD Space Agency Funds Development of Laser Terminal that Connects to Multiple Satellite at Once 10 comments

DoD space agency funds development of laser terminal that connects to multiple satellite at once:

The Space Development Agency [SDA] awarded BridgeComm and Space Micro a $1.7 million contract to demonstrate point-to-multipoint communications

Each of the satellites in the Pentagon’s planned mesh network of communications satellites could have as many as many as four laser links so they can talk to other satellites, airplanes, ships and ground stations.

Optical inter-satellite links are critical to the success of the Space Development Agency’s low Earth orbit constellation — known as Transport Layer — that will be used to route data traffic. Lasers provide much higher transmission data rates than traditional radio-frequency communications but are also far more expensive.

SDA recently awarded nearly $1.8 billion in contracts for 126 satellites for the Transport Layer. By some estimates, about $500 million of that total would be for optical terminals, said Michael Abad-Santos, senior vice president of business development and strategy at BridgeComm, a Denver-based optical communications startup.

The company developed a so-called “one-to-many” optical communications technology for point-to-multipoint transmissions. This technology could help reduce the cost of building constellations by requiring fewer terminals, Abad-Santos said.


Original Submission

CubeSat Set to Demonstrate NASA’s Fastest Laser Link from Space 3 comments

CubeSat Set to Demonstrate NASA's Fastest Laser Link from Space:

NASA's Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator 3 (PTD-3) mission, carrying the TeraByte InfraRed Delivery (TBIRD) system, will debut on May 25 [for a 6-month experiment] as part of SpaceX's Transporter-5 rideshare launch. TBIRD will showcase the high-data-rate capabilities of laser communications from a CubeSat in low-Earth orbit. At 200 gigabits per second (Gbps), TBIRD will downlink data at the highest optical rate ever achieved by NASA.

NASA primarily uses radio frequency to communicate with spacecraft, but with sights set on human exploration of the Moon and Mars and the development of enhanced scientific instruments, NASA needs more efficient communications systems to transmit significant amounts of data. With more data, researchers can make profound discoveries. Laser communications substantially increases data transport capabilities, offering higher data rates and more information packed into a single transmission.

Sony to Build Space Lasers With New Satellite Services Unit 11 comments

link: https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/sony-build-space-lasers-with-new-satellite-services-unit-2022-06-02/

"Sony on Thursday said it formed a new company that will build and supply devices that allow small satellites in orbit to communicate with one another via laser beams, dipping into the fast-growing space sector."

Sony Space Communications Corp, registered on Wednesday, is meant to take advantage of laser technology to avoid a bottleneck of radio frequencies. The devices will work between satellites in space and satellites communicating with ground stations.

The company did not say when it expects to have its first commercial device operating in space, whether it has existing customers lined up or how much money it has invested into the technology to date.

There are roughly 12,000 satellites in orbit, a number that is projected to increase rapidly in the coming years as rocket companies slash the cost of launching things to space, [...]


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  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Frosty Piss on Tuesday February 06, @07:29PM (8 children)

    by Frosty Piss (4971) on Tuesday February 06, @07:29PM (#1343359)

    Soon they will announce that Elon Musk has become sentient.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, @08:27PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, @08:27PM (#1343364)

      Wild ass guess -- the laser transmissions are not encrypted...and someone has been able to intercept the scattering when their transmissions go through the upper atmosphere?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, @10:13PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, @10:13PM (#1343396)

        I don't know about encryption, but the damned laser keeps burning holes in my roof!

    • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by DadaDoofy on Tuesday February 06, @09:42PM (5 children)

      by DadaDoofy (23827) on Tuesday February 06, @09:42PM (#1343385)

      Musk's takeover and fixing of the woke echo chamber that was Twitter is the gift that keeps on giving. The fact that he's cut the retail price on new Teslas, tanking resale value for all the earlier customers, must sting even worse. Suck it up buttercup.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Freeman on Tuesday February 06, @10:03PM (1 child)

        by Freeman (732) on Tuesday February 06, @10:03PM (#1343390) Journal

        I'm not sure that Musk "fixed" anything in regards to the Twitter dumpster fire. Still, without SpaceX would the USA even have launch capability? (Other than decades old ICBMs.) The pork barrel will fly real soon now, don't you worry. We just need a little extra grease.

        --
        Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
        • (Score: 5, Touché) by Freeman on Tuesday February 06, @10:11PM

          by Freeman (732) on Tuesday February 06, @10:11PM (#1343394) Journal

          Ah, yeah, the pork barrel that could: https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/09/nasa-finally-admits-what-everyone-already-knows-sls-is-unaffordable/ [arstechnica.com]

          NASA's inspector general, Paul Martin, said this claim was dubious. According to Martin, when calculating the projected cost savings of the new RS-25 engines, NASA and Aerojet only included material, engineering support, and touch labor, while project management and overhead costs are excluded.

          And even at $70.5 million, these engines [non-reusable] are very, very far from being affordable compared to the existing US commercial market for powerful rocket engines. Blue Origin manufactures an engine [reusable?] of comparable power and size, the BE-4, for less than $20 million. And SpaceX is seeking to push the similarly powerful Raptor rocket engine [reusable] costs even lower, to less than $1 million per engine.

          Boeing SLS: $70.5 million per engine, plus the sucker is just waste after that point.
          Blue Origin: $20 million per engine, at least theoretically reusable (are they actually successfully reusing them?)
          SpaceX: $1 million per engine, reusable with a proven track record.

          At this point, if you're planning on anything other than SpaceX, you're throwing away money. Which may work for say the US Military that wants to be able to have multiple launch options. For everyone else there's SpaceX.

          --
          Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, @01:33AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, @01:33AM (#1343429)

        Musk's takeover and fixing of the woke echo chamber that was Twitter is the gift that keeps on giving.

        Yeah, I'm glad they shut up the people who keep defeating me in debate, too.

        • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, @03:33AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, @03:33AM (#1343452)

          That's an ignorant point to be making. When one side is being censored, there IS NO DEBATE! Want to try again?

          • (Score: 0, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, @08:50AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, @08:50AM (#1343478)
            if you don't wanna be shown the door try not hurting people.
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by gnuman on Tuesday February 06, @10:10PM (3 children)

    by gnuman (5013) on Tuesday February 06, @10:10PM (#1343393)

    The lasers, which can sustain a 100Gbps connection per link, are especially crucial to helping the satellites fetch data when no SpaceX ground station is near, like over the ocean or Antarctic. Instead, the satellite can transmit the data to and from another Starlink satellite in Earth’s orbit, forming a mesh network in space.

    This is quite an accomplishment and it brings truly global connectivity in place. When Starlink was first deployed, the lasers were to be used for experimental purposes. It's good to see this tech has advanced very quickly.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Snotnose on Wednesday February 07, @12:07AM

      by Snotnose (1623) on Wednesday February 07, @12:07AM (#1343422)

      This was Iridium's strategy. Caller contacts sat A, which contacts sat B, etc, until Sat N contacted the ground.

      Globalstar, on the other hand, was ground to bird to ground period. The reasoning I heard in meetings was by letting Fooikstan put a ground station in their country they could levy "fees" based on "stuff".

      --
      I hate it when I see an old person, then realize we went to high school together.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by crafoo on Wednesday February 07, @03:05AM (1 child)

      by crafoo (6639) on Wednesday February 07, @03:05AM (#1343449)

      the laser links were, according to my sources, a demand of the DoD for their new Offset Strategy of the "fully connected battlefield". using lasers precludes other satellites from eavesdropping on the signal.

      making good use of military assets for civilian use is one of the things the USA does best. our entire nation becomes more wealthy and efficient.

      • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Wednesday February 07, @11:21AM

        by PiMuNu (3823) on Wednesday February 07, @11:21AM (#1343504)

        Not just the US. It's a good idea too...

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