Honeywell and Skyloom ink agreement on space-based optical communications

Dec. 16, 2021
Honeywell and Skyloom will collaborate on optical communications for several satellite constellations as well as optical ground stations.

PHOENIX - Honeywell and Skyloom have signed a teaming agreement that will enable satellite operators to deliver high-capacity and high-data-rate internet connectivity to users around the world. The companies will jointly develop a manufacturing facility to produce optical terminals for communications, including for ground to space, spacecraft to spacecraft and spacecraft to aircraft.

Optical communication terminals are crucial in enabling high-bandwidth communication from space to remote locations and then to connected assets. The ability to quickly connect and secure these assets is especially important to military customers. The teaming agreement will allow Honeywell and Skyloom to collaborate on quick design innovation, scalability, reliability and on-time manufacturing for their commercial and military customers.

Free-space optical communication systems complement traditional radio frequency (RF) solutions, bringing the internet speeds of terrestrial fiber optics to space. Using laser technology, optical communication systems offer a much narrower and more focused beam than traditional RF links, resulting in higher data rates, more capacity, greater security and smaller, lighter, more affordable terminals.

Skyloom designs and builds the space-based equivalent of towers, fiber, routers and switches, enabling fiberless orbital networks. This is a highly precise and challenging task that few companies can achieve since it requires the agility of new developments, interoperability and deep understanding of space.

Honeywell and Skyloom are currently working to qualify and deliver the SDA Tranche 0 terminals, with Honeywell’s Cambridge space facility already having a fully functional, mature production line. This facility is capable of producing close to 1,000 terminals per year to cater to the various government and commercial constellation demands.

The agreement brings low-cost user terminals to the market today with the ability to scale. The solution spans all user segments, including low-Earth orbit (LEO) targeting a three-to-five year life, high-LEO with a seven-to-10 year life, and high-value, reliable and long-endurance terminals with a 10-to-15 year life in radiation-hardened spacecraft.

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