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High Power Optical Transmitter for Satellite Communications

Award Information

Department of Defense
Air Force
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2010 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
AF 09-044
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
SA Photonics
130A Knowles Dr. Los Gatos, CA -
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2010
Title: High Power Optical Transmitter for Satellite Communications
Agency / Branch: DOD / USAF
Contract: FA8750-10-C-0075
Award Amount: $99,996.00


The need for higher bandwidth communications supporting video as well as data transmission to the warfighter is driving the development of satellite-based free space lasercom. However, the current state-of-the-art in laser transmitter technology is mainly directed at fiber optics systems which have been developed primarily for terrestrial applications, where radiation tolerance is not designed into the product. Given that the useful operating lifetime of communications satellites can exceed twenty years, the optical transmitter reliability is crucial to the effective development of satellite-based systems to support delivery of high bandwidth to the warfighter. Current terrestrial based systems are designed for high reliability and long life, as over the last 15 years billions of dollars have been spent on the development of fiber optic based sources, modulators, and amplifiers to support critical communications systems such as Emergency Response and 911 call centers. SA Photonics developed the SKYLIGHT laser transmitter for satellite based lasercom. SKYLIGHT incorporates a tunable laser source, a high performance modulation engine, and a high power Master Oscillator Power Amplifier to provide a system capable of up to 10Gb/s with over 10W of output power and a radiation tolerance capable of operating in LEO or GEO orbits BENEFIT: The primary benefit of the SKYLIGHT laser transmitter development program is to provide a high power space qualified radiation hardened laser transmitter platform to form the basis of a satellite lasercom terminal. The SKYLIGHT system will advance the state of the art in fiber based laser sources for space applications. Monolithic fiber based sources have an advantage over other laser sources due to the robust nature of the monolithic architecture, the small size, and low weight. A program dedicated to improving radiation tolerance, reliability, and power efficiency of fiber based laser sources will simplify the deployment of satellite-based laser communications.

Principal Investigator:

Dave Pechner

Business Contact:

Andrea Singewald
Small Business Information at Submission:

SA Photonics
650 5th Street Suite 505 San Francisco, CA 94107

EIN/Tax ID: 611427995
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No