Amazon concludes 100Gbps testing of laser links on Project Kuiper satellites

Amazon has confirmed that it plans to include laser links on every satellite in its Project Kuiper LEO (low earth orbit) constellation following the completion of testing on its prototype satellites, a design element of key importance to the maritime sector.

Optical inter-satellite links (OISLs) use infrared lasers to send data between spacecraft as they orbit the planet. Instead of being limited to sending data between an individual satellite and antennas on the ground, OISLs allow satellites to send data directly to other satellites in a constellation, creating a ‘mesh’ network in space.

In a maritime context, this means that a vessel can be far from shore anywhere on the planet when it connects to a LEO satellite, without that satellite needing a direct look angle to a ground station somewhere on land to pass the signal off and connect to the wider internet.

Testing on the project’s October-launched prototype satellites, KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, demonstrated consistent 100 Gbps OISL links over a distance of nearly 1,000 kilometres for the entirety of the test window. Following these results, Amazon says that it will include operational OISLs on the company’s first production satellites, slated for launch in the first half of 2024.

“With optical inter-satellite links across our satellite constellation, Project Kuiper will effectively operate as a mesh network in space,” said Rajeev Badyal, Project Kuiper’s Vice President of Technology.

“This system is designed fully in-house to optimise for speed, cost, and reliability, and the entire architecture has worked flawlessly from the very start.”

“These immediate results are only possible because we approached our OISL architecture as one part of a fully integrated system design, and it’s a testament to this team’s willingness to invent on behalf of customers. We’re excited to be able to support these next-generation OISL capabilities on every Kuiper satellite from day one.”

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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