14 September 2022
Coherent wins DARPA contract to develop coherent optical transceivers for Space-BACN program
Coherent Corp of Saxonburg, PA, USA, which provides photonics technology for communications and aerospace & defense applications, has won a contract to develop coherent optical transceiver technology for the Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node (Space-BACN) program of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The aim of Space-BACN is to create low-cost, high-speed, reconfigurable laser-based data links that will enable communications between various government and private-sector low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellations.
Various incompatible and often proprietary optical inter-satellite links (OISLs) prevent LEO satellite arrays from readily sharing information, keeping proliferated space from reaching its full potential. Coherent is specifically tasked with designing and fabricating coherent optical transceivers for a reconfigurable modem compatible with most existing single-wavelength communications protocols and able to readily adapt to work with new waveforms as they are introduced. The goal is to support multiple optical waveforms at total data rates of up to 100Gbps on a single wavelength, while simultaneously meeting stringent size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) constraints.
“Advances in digital technology, together with falling launch costs, have made it possible for many groups to launch ‘constellations’ of compact satellites possessing a multitude of capabilities, enabled by high-speed laser communications,” notes Dr Chris Koeppen chief technology officer. “Beyond just defense applications, these satellite arrays offer tremendous potential for low-cost global communications, sensing, imaging, space exploration, and more.”
The current award to Coherent is a Phase 1 contract within Technical Area 2 (TA2) of the SpaceBACN development program. TA2 is focused on modem architecture. Coherent already participated in Phase 0 of TA2, which involved developing the architectural design for these components, and was selected for Phase 1 based on the success of that work.