Astrolight and Cailabs to demonstrate Space-to-Earth optical communications

Publication date: 28 June 2023
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Cailabs and Astrolight entered into an agreement to launch a satellite mission hosting Astrolight’s space-to-Earth laser communication terminal ATLAS-1. The mutual objective of the mission is to establish laser communication downlinks and thereby demonstrate pointing, acquisition and tracking capabilities at gigabit per second data rates between ATLAS-1, manufactured by Astrolight, and Cailabs optical ground station (OGS).

This mission will increase the technology readiness level of both Astrolight and Cailabs systems and pave the way for further commercialization of both products. ATLAS-1 is a demonstrator version of Astrolight’s ATLAS product line. Future versions of ATLAS will achieve even higher downlink speeds of over 10 Gbps. ATLAS design is optimized for Earth observation satellites with specific attention to small size and low power consumption.

Cailabs is a manufacturer of turnkey and multimission-OGS. Having a space-to-earth laser communication terminal (LCT) for testing optical ground stations represents an additional means of validation for the company and its customers.

“It is a great example of two companies joining forces in order to achieve a common goal –implement an optical communication system that will overcome the bottleneck of space-to-Earth data downlink”, explains Laurynas Maciulis, co-founder & CEO of Astrolight.

We look forward to demonstrating reliable and stable pointing, acquisition and tracking between ATLAS-1 and Cailabs OGS over as many passes as possible. This is a fundamental prerequisite for developing a commercial data downlink solution that will be useful to our customers. Space-to-Earth optical communication is challenging and most of the missions so far have failed just in this first step”, he continues.

“We are delighted to be working with Astrolight on this ambitious project. Few players today offer high data rate laser communication terminals with a small SWaP (Size, Weight and Power) for nanosatellites. Cailabs is pleased to collaborate with an emerging European actor in this field”, concludes Pu Jian, Chief Product Officer & Deputy CEO at Cailabs.

About Astrolight

Founded in 2019, Astrolight is developing a license-free direct-to-Earth optical data downlink system for LEO satellites that has 10 times more bandwidth at 50% of the cost of the existing radio-based communication systems. Astrolight is led by an ex-founder and CTO of Kongsberg Nanoavionics Laurynas Mačiulis together with co-founders possessing extensive experience in photonic and space markets. Astrolight laser terminal ATLAS stands out from competitors due to its small size and low power consumption. For more information about Astrolight: