General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) has successfully conducted a free space interconnect demonstration ground test of its Laser Interconnect and Networking Communication System (LINCS) spacecraft, the company announced on 1 June.

The fully autonomous acquisition, tracking and pointing of the Optical Communication Terminals (OCT) on both spacecraft marked the final acceptance testing in preparation for delivery of the system to Kennedy Space Center for a June 2021 launch in partnership with the Space Development Agency (SDA).

This was critical milestone that demonstrates GA-EMS’ OCT’s ability to communicate with each other and potentially interoperate with other assets in an environment that closely replicates the conditions in space,” stated Scott Forney, President of GA-EMS. “Interoperability is key to reaping the benefits of proliferating this critical technology. We are excited to work with SDA to reach TRL-9 by demonstrating our system in orbit later this summer.”

Since 2017, GA-EMS has conducted numerous free space interconnect demonstrations of its internally funded OCTs at various levels of development, before partnering with SDA last year. Once on orbit, GA-EMS’ OCTs as part of the LINCS system will perform a series of experiments in partnership with SDA demonstrating optical communication in and from space later this year.

Our internally developed OCTs are scalable, interoperable, highly manufacturable and capable of high data rate secure communication across multiple domains,” explained Nick Bucci, VP of Missile Defense and Space Systems at GA-EMS. “We are continuing to invest significantly in the technology and infrastructure to support and facilitate critical future National Security Space and Multi-domain architectures.”

Free space OCTs in acceptance testing prior to shipment to Cape Canaveral. (Photo: GA-EMS)

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