Terran Orbital Corporation (NYSE: LLAP) has revealed that their Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator 3 (PTD-3) satellite enabled a successful 200 gigabits per second space-to-ground optical link.
The NASA satellite hosts the TeraByte InfraRed Delivery (TBIRD) payload, funded by NASA Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) and developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory.
With a transmission rate of multiple orders of magnitude faster than current state-of-the-art satellite communications, this technology enables spacecraft to downlink several terabytes of data to the ground in a single, ground station pass. This breakthrough has the potential to revolutionize the space-based Earth Observation (EO) and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) industries, among others, by offering a space-demonstrated solution to the data throughput bottlenecks that have historically limited their capabilities.
Previously, Terran Orbital aided TBIRD’s data transmission of 1.4 terabytes of test data to a single ground station in a pass that lasted less than five minutes – a record breaker at the time in terms of both speed and data transmission quantity. The 200 gigabits per second space-to-ground optical link broke this record.
“The completion of the 200 gigabits per second link is both monumental and record-breaking. Terran Orbital is honored to have worked alongside NASA on this groundbreaking mission and is grateful to MIT Lincoln Laboratory for creating the payload. We look forward to working with NASA and MIT Lincoln Laboratory on future satellites as we continue to make record-breaking in space commonplace.” — Marc Bell, Terran Orbital Co-Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer