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General Atomics to Help Space Development Agency Test Satellite Data Transfer Platform

General Atomics and the Space Development Agency (SDA) have partnered to conduct a series of tests for an optical intersatellite link with wavelength laser communication terminals as part of efforts to speed up data transmission in space.

The demonstration is scheduled to commence in March next year through the launch of two 12-unit cubesat platforms that will carry infrared and 1550-nanometer LCT payloads, the company said Friday.

Scott Forney, president of General Atomics’ electromagnetic systems business, said the unit has developed optical LCTs over several years to increase crosslink and downlink data transfer rates.

Forney added that the upcoming experiments look to showcase communication systems “from Earth, to and between satellites in multiple orbits, and on in to deep space.”

The company estimates the demonstration will show a data transfer rate of 5 gigabytes per second over a distance of 1553 miles and that its LCT technology can facilitate transmission range that will exceed more than 2796 miles.

“This increased speed in communications is necessary to advance a variety of space applications in intelligence, surveillance, telecommunications, reconnaissance and more,” said Nick Bucci, vice president of missile defense and space systems at GA-EMS.

GA-EMS will develop, integrate and test the satellites for the experiments at company facilities in San Diego and Alabama. The unit will also provide mission control support through its centers in Huntsville, Ala., and Centennial, Colo.

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