Realizing commercially viable optical communications in the short term

Today we achieved the first stable link through our new, high powered LED transmitter. This was not without many struggles and design challenges, but the concept is one step closer to maturity.

A number of new things have been going on in the optical communication test program. We now have dedicated labor for the development of the flight hardware and software, and a miniaturized version of transmitter is under the final stages of design review before manufacturing. The aim is to produce a viable, monolithic VLC downlink module by the start of October that can be mounted on Cubesats with minimal modification or ADCS requirement.

Concurrently, the development of the solar-panel based omnidirectional uplink has been progressing at a steady pace. A long distance test is scheduled soon, and it is expected that all our future solar panel products will support this uplink feature, optional with the purchase of our EPS modules.


Non-coherent Free Space Optical Communication

Optical communication methods are able to provide high data rates but are generally limited in use on microsatellites due to their requirements for either a beam steering device or advanced ADCS. Aphelion is developing a new communication method using high powered, directional non-coherent light to produce self-contained systems with minimal space and pointing requirements. A prototype unit was recently demonstrated with multiple-LED complex modulation on the ground. The unit was able to achieve much higher wall-plug efficiency than laser-based units, and opens up new paths for advanced spatial modulation techniques.