The US Space Development Agency (SDA) has contracted Voyager Space-powered company SPACE MICRO to develop advanced one-to-many optical communications.

The 24-month development contract will involve the use of managed optical communications array (MOCA) technology.

The technology will improve the capability of low-Earth orbit (LEO) constellations for one-to-many or point-to-multipoint secure communications.

The company explained that laser communications defy interference from electromagnetic and radiofrequency (RF).

This characteristic makes optical communication suitable for optical inter-satellite links.

In addition, this type of communication also supports high data rate backhaul links from spacecraft-to-ground stations and spacecraft-to-drone links.

Space Micro CEO David Czajkowski said: “When we combine Space Micro’s current space-based optical communications products with data rates up to 100Gbps, MOCA will provide enhanced LEO constellation capability for one-to-many or point-to-multipoint secure communications.” 

Space Micro has teamed up with optical wireless communications solutions and services provider BridgeComm for the contract.

In 2018, BridgeComm initiated work to upgrade the point-to-point (PtP) optical terminals. It incorporated optical wireless communications (OWC) into its MOCA technology.

OWC complements RF with point-to-multipoint capability and delivers high-speed and improved security, along with multi-user coverage.

BridgeComm CEO Barry Matsumori said: “RF has served us well, evolving to meet the increasing demands for higher performance within any mobile communications system, though they come with physical limitations for speed and capacity.

“OWC addresses the needs of end-users while complimenting RF with point-to-multipoint capability. We’ve seen great success in our demo and are excited for our customers to reap the benefits of MOCA.”