News Update

Norwegian microsatellite achieves optical satellite-to-ground communications link

Mar 2024 | No Comment


The NorSat-TD demonstration microsatellite developed by Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) for the Norwegian Space Agency (NOSA) has successfully transferred data to a ground station using optical communications technology. The accomplishment is a first for a Dutch-built laser communication device and among the first achieved by a microsatellite.

Optical, or laser, communications between a satellite and ground station enable faster and more secure transmission of larger data sets than typically possible with radio communications. Reliable delivery of data either collected or relayed by satellites is vital to most low Earth orbit applications, including Earth observation, telecommunications, atmospheric monitoring, maritime ship tracking, and space astronomy.

Launched in April 2023, NorSat-TD was the sixth mission developed by SFL for Norway. Designed primarily as a maritime ship tracking mission, the demonstration microsatellite also carried experimental payloads for enhanced GPS positioning, spacecraft tracking by laser, and iodine-fueled propulsion, in addition to the SmallCAT terminal. NorSat-4, now under development at SFL for a 2024 launch, will feature a first-of-its-kind low-light imaging sensor.

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