Laser Terminals Inducted Into the Space Technology Hall of Fame

The optical ground station in Oberpfaffenhofen serves as a receiving station with its 40-centimeter telescope. It has been designed especially with a view to taking measurements. (Source: DLR; CC-BY 3.0)

Laser terminals from Mynaric, a spin-off company of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have been inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame. “This US Space Foundation award is a great honor for us. DLR technologies that have been designed and produced by Mynaric have received a great deal of international recognition. These technologies and their transfer are a great example of the aerospace industry’s contribution to digitalization,” says Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board.

With high-speed Internet, networking and digitalization, the demand for ubiquitous network connectivity is increasing rapidly. The data transmission infrastructure outside of major cities has long since reached its limits. In response to this, corporations such as Amazon, Google and Facebook are striving to build a superfast Internet above the clouds, in order to bring outlying areas online. The products developed by Mynaric enable the necessary data highways to be established between aircraft, platforms in the stratosphere, and even satellites. Laser light can transmit large amounts of data over enormous distances, securely and without any losses.

The DLR Institute of Communications and Navigation has been actively researching laser communications systems for many years and plays a leading international role in their development and testing. “Our Institute, together with Mynaric, has often been the first to demonstrate many new developments. These include the first connection to a tethered balloon, a stratospheric balloon, a propeller-driven aircraft and to a jet-to-jet connection. The Institute also holds a number of world records, including transmission over a stretch of open space of more than ten kilometers, at a data rate of 1.73 terabits per second. Our researchers have repeatedly laid the foundations for new technological developments,” reports Christoph Günther, Director of the Institute. Laser communications allow the data transmission rate to be significantly increased, as more than one thousand times more spectrum is available. The highly concentrated nature of the light means that the majority of it reaches the receiver, thereby significantly increasing efficiency compared to radio waves.

Attached to the underside of DLR’s Dornier Do 228-212 research plane – the “Free­space Experi­mental Laser Termi­nal II” for data communi­cations between the aircraft and the ground. Nume­rous measure­ments were taken with the system. The rele­vant proper­ties of the atmo­sphere were deter­mined in order to optimize the data trans­mission systems. (Source: DLR; CC-BY 3.0)

“We are currently experiencing a radical change in tele­communi­cations infra­struc­ture, and laser communi­cations is regarded as a key tech­nology for data trans­mission in the skies, as the equi­valent of opti­cal fibers. We believe that our products place us in an ideal posi­tion to esta­blish our­selves as one of the market leaders for the Inter­net above the clouds,” says Mynaric CEO Wolfram Peschko.

Mynaric’s laser communi­cations products have been inducted into the Space Tech­nology Hall of Fame under the heading “Laser terminals for the skies and beyond”. Some of the key technologies for this have been licensed from DLR. Every year, the Hall of Fame recog­nizes technol­ogies that were originally developed for the aero­space industry and are being used as practical, marke­table products – particularly if they improve people’s quality of life. Both individuals and organi­zations are honored. The award was created in 1988 by the Space Foundation, a non-profit organi­zation head­quartered in Colorado that supports space exploration and exploi­tation, in collabo­ration with the US space agency, NASA. The official award ceremony will take place on 19 April 2018 at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. (Source: DLR)

Link: Mynaric AG, Gilching, GermanyOptical Free-Space Communications (C. Fuchs), Institute of Communications and Navigation, German Aerospace Center, Oberpfaffenhofen-Wessling, Germany

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