Commercialization and Standardization Progress towards an Optical Communications Earth RelayHighlights:
"Several space agencies are currently working on space based optical communications. The primary motivation stems from the expectation that substantially higher (at least 10 times) data rates than Radio Frequency (RF) based solutions might be feasible with similar user spacecraft onboard terminal burden (mass, volume and power). In addition, optical communications can also be used at comparable RF data rates in order to lower the user communication system’s required mass, volume, and power. Finally available RF spectrum is also becoming an issue in high data rate applications."
"In order to enhance the use of optical communications worldwide and to allow the sharing of communications infrastructure such as optical ground stations and optical relay satellites, the world’s major space agencies are engaged in developing international standards for space optical communication systems as has been done with radio frequency (RF) communications"
"To facilitate the adoption of optical communications by NASA science and exploration missions, a commercial supplier of space terminals compatible with terminals on the next generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellites need to exist. Ideally, more than one commercial source should be developed and terminals from one source should be compatible with the terminals from another source."
"A set of standards for space optical communications needs to be developed to enable inoperability between terminals from different commercial sources. Ideally, an international standard will be developed and accepted by the major space agencies worldwide. An international standard will allow optical communications terminals built by one space agency to use the infrastructure of another. Collaboration in optical communications will lower mission cost and risk and likely enable missions which otherwise are unaffordable by one nation on their own. This is the evolutionary next step to today’s existing RF cross support."