Optical inter-satellite links demoed by SEAKR Engineering and DARPANews
June 08, 2022
CENTENNIAL, Colo. Aerospace manufacturer SEAKR Engineering announced that it has successfully demonstrated optical inter-satellite links between two satellites operated by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
According to the report from SEAKR Engineering -- a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies -- during the first test, more than 280 gigabits of data were transferred at a range of 114 km (70.8 miles) during a period of more than 40 minutes.
Jeff Schrader, president of SEAKR Engineering and Blue Canyon Technologies, called the demonstration "a closer look at some of the foundational building blocks needed for a networked space architecture.”
Under DARPA’s Blackjack project, two Mandrake 2 spacecraft -- dubbed Able and Baker -- were launched in 2021 to demonstrate advanced laser communications. The satellites carried optical links from SA Photonics onboard an Astro Digital Bus; ASI provided the satellite software needed to operate the vehicles with SEAKR acting as the prime contractor to lead the system integration of both satellites.
The project was originally scheduled for launch in January 2021, but a prelaunch incident damaged both the Able and Baker satellites. SEAKR repaired and rebuilt the satellites, delivering them for launch in under six months.