I am conducting research into optical free space communication and small/nano satellites in LEO. I have found only a few companies which supply lasercom (laser communication) terminals (transmitter/receiver) for free space communication (TRL9): TESAT/DLR, Mynaric, Hyperion Technologies.

Small/ nano satellites have become popular platforms for a wide variety of scientific, commercial, and military remote sensing applications. I have read the main limitation of lasercom is atmospheric effects. Currently there is a lot of research on how to avoid/limit these effects.

I am interested in technical/design details.

  1. What are the main technical challenges with bringing the benefits of lasercom technology to small satellites we meet in design a terminal for optical free space (laser) communication?

  2. If we take a LED/LD, modulator, filter …, it will not work. We must think about setup parameters: size, power…

Which parameters are important for us to consider before the design/production of lasercom terminals?

EDIT 1: Could you give me some technical reason for question 1?


I thought, the reliability and PAT/PNT are the same requirement. If we need a reliable terminal, it will require a good PAT system. I have read that PAT/PNT, SWaP and the operating environment (sun, rain … atmospheric effects) are the main problems that engineers meet in designing a lasercom terminal. I was thinking other problem should be … For software or hardware engineers, will be important if the equipment is RF or laser terminal?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The main challenge is probably having a reasonable market to produce a product for... $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Nov 2, 2021 at 17:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The article you linked to, as an example of what you have read on atmospheric aspects, has nothing to do with atmospheric aspects. If you are not familiar with atmospheric effects on optical communications in general (not necessarliy laser communication), you can try to add questions on these effects. If you are familiar with these effects, you are encouraged to link to the proper papers. $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Commented Nov 2, 2021 at 17:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ BTW, is your question related to scientific research or market research. This is because you inform that you do not have an engineering background, yet you cite an engineering article to explain your comprehension problem. Your final question seems to be rather technical too (?) $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Commented Nov 2, 2021 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ @NgPh The linked reseach proposed a filter to protect lasercom terminal telescopes against solar or earth albedo. Sun light is atmospheric aspect, isnt? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 6:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If in your question, you link to a paper saying you have read it, then expect people to read it and ask you why is it relevant to your question? It would be a waste of everbody's time to link to a paper, then say I am not interested in this aspect. Don't take this as a cross-examination, but as a recommendation to make your question more answerable. A good question contains 80% of the answer. $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 9:39

1 Answer 1



  • Mass production and industrialization: The industry has geared up over decades to supply radio equipment such as phased-array antennas and hardware on satellites. Shifting the production to a new technology, and producing to scale is a challenge.
  • The technology has to contend with the atmosphere: Scintillation and turbulence mix up the wavefront and need to be corrected for, but there are many methods and pieces of hardware which can do this.
  • It requires precise pointing, usually with aid of an electromechanical gimballed telescope, and a small fast steering mirror. This is quickly becoming trivial, with better control systems and devices with fewer moving parts, such as VSCEL arrays and "lasercom-on-a-chip".

There are perhaps only a few companies working on commercialization of lasercom terminals. But there are a large number of countries and governmental departments involved on military projects, and a huge number of companies involved in the supply chain and end-use of lasercom. Check out some examples.

There is also a dedicated forum on the technology if you're interested in the topic.

  • $\begingroup$ What are methods , which can correct / limit atmospheric effects? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 7:27
  • $\begingroup$ @AnnaKoroleva as long as it's about ground to space communications, that 's certainly on-topic and would make an interesting new question. High speed signal degradation due to turbulence could be dealt with party via electronics, it's somewhat analogous to multipath interference in wireless connections, but I'd be interested in seeing answers to a new question which asks about both electronic signal corrections and wavefront corrections for optical communication via adaptive optics. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ @AnnaKoroleva indeed, worth being a new question to allow more detailed answers - there are many strategies to overcome atmospheric issues. $\endgroup$
    – Polar_Bear
    Commented Nov 7, 2021 at 20:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.