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UK companies to develop Optical Ground Station
QinetiQ is working with Chess Dynamics on a project in the UK to build a relocatable Optical Ground Station (OGS) capable of receiving high-speed data transmissions from space.
The two companies announced a £2.3 million ($3.04 million) contract from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) on 19 November – the same day that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced increased investment in UK military space capabilities.
OGS will support the capability demonstrator being developed by Dstl in the Titania Free Space Optical Communications research project, which aims to develop the science and demonstrate the military utility of low-Earth orbit (LEO) direct-to-earth optical communications.
The OGS Terminal will house an optical exchange telescope provided by QinetiQ, and Chess’ precision tracking equipment will be essential to maintain the accurate tracking essential for data exchange between the OGS and a satellite
Chess and QinetiQ hope that the OGS will enable vastly improved data communications in comparison to traditional communications technologies. Data will be transferred from space at an increased rate and with enhanced resilience, while data will be protected in RF-contested or spectrum-congested environments.
Whilst the immediate benefits of the technology will be seen in the rapid transference of data from satellites to the ground, the OGS project may also help shape long-term decisions for future LEO programmes.
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