A consortium including AAC Clyde Space subsidiary AAC Hyperion, has been selected by TNO of the Netherlands to deliver a new direct-to-Earth laser communication terminal for small satellites in LEO. The order value is EUR 0.3 M (approx. SEK 3.3 M) with planned delivery in 2025.


Apart from AAC Hyperion, the consortium includes the Dutch consortium FSO Instruments, consisting of the enterprises Demcon and VDL. The terminal, named HemiCAT, is an optical communication terminal which will have Coarse Pointing Assembly (CPA) capability, lowering the requirements on the satellite platform’s own pointing ability. AAC Hyperion and its partners will provide the terminal’s electronics and software.

In designing and building the electronics and software subsystems, AAC Hyperion will leverage its experience from similar projects, and reuse some building blocks developed in the CubeCAT project. The goal is for the HemiCAT to perform at levels similar to those of the CubeCAT.

AAC Hyperion’s CubeCAT system provides a bidirectional space-to-ground communication link between a CubeSat and an optical ground station, with downlink speeds of up to 1 Gbps and uplink data rate of 200 Kbps.

“The HemiCAT project leverages some of our most appreciated CubeSat technology in the next segment, small satellites. This is an illustration of how dynamic the development environment is in space technology today, where a lot of innovation comes from CubeSats”¬†says¬†AAC Clyde Space CEO Luis Gomes.

Laser communication technologies are being increasingly used to send data generated on satellites directly to earth. By transmitting through the infra-red wavelength band, the limitations of standard radio frequency communication technologies are avoided thereby increasing transmission capabilities of satellites ten to hundred fold. Moreover, laser communication links are seen as more secure and laser communication systems have the potential of lower size, weight and power, which is important in the Space domain.