Session

Weekday Session 6: Advanced Technologies II

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

Blue Cubed has developed Cobalt, a full duplex optical terminal which can support both symmetric crosslinks and downlinks. The system has been engineered to be modular, easily mass produced and available at a competitive price. Cobalt is intended for low earth orbit small satellite applications that require 100Mbps to 10Gbps per communication links at ranges of up to 4000 km. The Cobalt core transceiver (excluding the telescope) is roughly 0.5U (9 x 9 x 5 cm), one kilogram, and consumes 10 W of electrical power for the 3Gbps system variant. An increased data rates can be achieved by adding up to 3 additional 3Gbps channels which adds 3W of additional power and 100g of additional mass per channel. The link performance is a function of the radiometery where data rate, telescope size (11 to 100mm) and range can be traded). A gimbal which provides hemispheric coverage and meets the needs of the growing satellite constellation market is also currently under development.

The Cobalt optical bench incorporates a novel, patented self-alignment technique based on differential tracking of the transmit and receive signals. This approach greatly relaxes manufacturing tolerances and makes the bench uniquely robust to environmental loading. While the self-alignment approach is applicable at any wavelength, Blue Cubed has focused initial development on a 850 nm variant. Silicon-compatible wavelengths offer low cost and high-performance detectors, tracking sensors, and lasers, all of which are critical in highly SWaP-C constrained applications.

Cobalt can be paired with the Bluefin X-band transmitter to provide a hybrid RF and optical downlink terminal. In this talk we describe the status of the Cobalt transceiver, share laboratory test results and discuss our path to initial on-orbit demonstrations targeted for late 2023.

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Aug 9th, 4:45 PM

Cobalt: The Next Step in Low SWaP-C Optical Terminal Design

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Blue Cubed has developed Cobalt, a full duplex optical terminal which can support both symmetric crosslinks and downlinks. The system has been engineered to be modular, easily mass produced and available at a competitive price. Cobalt is intended for low earth orbit small satellite applications that require 100Mbps to 10Gbps per communication links at ranges of up to 4000 km. The Cobalt core transceiver (excluding the telescope) is roughly 0.5U (9 x 9 x 5 cm), one kilogram, and consumes 10 W of electrical power for the 3Gbps system variant. An increased data rates can be achieved by adding up to 3 additional 3Gbps channels which adds 3W of additional power and 100g of additional mass per channel. The link performance is a function of the radiometery where data rate, telescope size (11 to 100mm) and range can be traded). A gimbal which provides hemispheric coverage and meets the needs of the growing satellite constellation market is also currently under development.

The Cobalt optical bench incorporates a novel, patented self-alignment technique based on differential tracking of the transmit and receive signals. This approach greatly relaxes manufacturing tolerances and makes the bench uniquely robust to environmental loading. While the self-alignment approach is applicable at any wavelength, Blue Cubed has focused initial development on a 850 nm variant. Silicon-compatible wavelengths offer low cost and high-performance detectors, tracking sensors, and lasers, all of which are critical in highly SWaP-C constrained applications.

Cobalt can be paired with the Bluefin X-band transmitter to provide a hybrid RF and optical downlink terminal. In this talk we describe the status of the Cobalt transceiver, share laboratory test results and discuss our path to initial on-orbit demonstrations targeted for late 2023.