Sony has started a business in space laser communications

At Sony Computer Science Laboratories, the Sony Group has been in the process of conducting research and creating the optical communications systems to allow high-speed data transfers over great distances in a manner that can be installed on microsatellites. Sony Group aspires to produce lightweight, ultra-compact, mass-producible optical communications systems that can resist hostile environments such as space by employing optical disc technology that it has developed over several years in the creation and manufacture of CD players as well as other products.

In 2020, in conjunction with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency commonly referred as JAXA) , Small Optical Link for International Space Station (SOLISS) was deployed in the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” of the ISS (International Space Station). It created a laser communications link that is bidirectional with the Japanese NICT’s (National Institute of Information and Communications Technology) space optical communication ground station and successfully communicated high-definition image data using Ethernet protocols. This experimental gadget managed to create optical downlinks from the space to a commercial optical ground station of KSAT (Kongsberg Satellite Services) based in Greece in 2021.

A test on complete data file transmission in a modeled error-prone communications setting, that is going to be the technological foundation for Internet services via stratospheric and low-Earth orbit (LEO) optical communications, was conducted successfully in 2022 in conjunction with JAXA.

Sony has established a firm to create laser communication systems for small satellites, based on the optical disc technology which it innovated for CD players as well as other products. Sony Space Communications (SSC) was established on June 2 in San Mateo, California, to assist enterprises in avoiding radio wave shortages as the number of satellites in LEO (low Earth orbit) grows.

SSC intends to design, produce, and supply technologies that are going to allow small satellites to interact with the ground stations — and each other in real-time — by using laser beams rather than radio frequencies. According to Kyohei Iwamoto, who is the SSC president, the amount of data utilized in LEO grows every year, although the radio waves amount available is restricted.

“Additionally, the necessity for radio frequency licensing and the necessity for lower power usage of communication equipment required by smaller satellites, such as microsatellites, are both challenges that must be addressed,” he added.

According to Sony, traditional radio communications require larger satellite antennas and higher power than optical networks, making fast speeds on small satellites “physically challenging.” Sony claims to be working on optical communications systems tiny enough to fit in microsatellites, which NASA describes as spacecraft weighing between 10 and 100 kg.

The firm did not disclose when its devices would be ready or whether it had any consumers waiting for them. SSC intends to use its optical disc technology to produce lightweight, mass-producible and ultra-compact satellite communication systems that can resist harsh space conditions. Sony said in 2020 that an optical communications gadget it co-developed with Japan’s space agency had been deployed on Kibo, which is the Japanese experimental module on the ISS (International Space Station).

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