QinetiQ has received a contract from the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to construct a relocatable Optical Ground Station (OGS).

The £2.3m contract was awarded via the Serapis Lot 2 commercial framework.

OGS will be designed to be able to receive high-speed data transmissions from space and will support the Space Programme of Dstl.

It will provide a platform to carry out research and experimentation related to free-space optical communications (FSOC) from space.

The station will aid the ‘Titania’ Capability Demonstrator, which aims to develop and showcase the use of low Earth orbit (LEO) direct-to-Earth (DTE) free space optical communications in the military.

It is said to support the information advantage (IA) concept with the ability to boost the data transfer rate from space and enhance resilience.

Additionally, it will safeguard the data in radio frequency (RF) disputed and jammed environments.

Firstly, it will focus on quick relay of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data from satellites in the LEO to the ground.

Dstl space programme manager Mike O’Callaghan said: “The use of space-based optical communications offers many military benefits: potentially large data rates, low probability of interception / detection, and freedom from spectrum management.

“The OGS will provide a solid foundation on which to conduct experimentation into FSOC and allow the science to be developed.

“The OGS will also allow the UK to develop interoperability and common approaches with our International partners. We are delighted to be working with QinetiQ on this highly innovative project and provide real impact for MoD.”