General Atomics‘ electromagnetic systems group has received a contract to demonstrate optical communication between a low-Earth orbit satellite and an unmanned aerial vehicle for the Space Development Agency.
The space-to-air experiment will showcase the potential of Laser Interconnect Networking Communication System cubesats to send infrared signals to the MQ-9 Reaper as the drone flies at an altitude of 25,000 feet, the company said Wednesday.
The LINCS demonstration will use a pair of 12-unit miniature satellites equipped with C-band optical communication terminals and infrared payloads.
Nick Bucci, vice president of missile defense and space systems at General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, said the company has invested in adaptive optics and other “enabling technologies” for OCTs as part of efforts to help warfighters communicate across domains.
Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS, said the upcoming experiment is intended to serve as a step toward validation of optical communication technology for military applications.
SDA awarded the contract in conjunction with a space test series slated to commence in late summer.
General Atomics completed a free space interconnect ground demo of the LINCS system as part of final acceptance testing requirements for the partnership’s in-orbit experiment.