Mynaric selected by DARPA to design new generation optical terminals

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DARPA pursues new laser terminal design that would make it easier for government and commercial satellites to exchange data

WASHINGTON – Mynaric has been selected to participate in a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program to develop next-generation laser communications terminals to connect government and commercial satellites, the company said on December 20.

Mynaric, based in Germany, manufactures optical communication terminals or devices that use lasers to send data into space.

DARPA is pursuing a new laser terminal design that would be compatible with any constellation and facilitate communication between government and commercial satellites. The program is called Space-BACN, short for space-based adaptive communications node.

Mynaric will work on “the architectural design of a next-generation optical communications terminal as part of Phase 0 of the Space-BACN program,” said company president Tina Ghataore.

DARPA is expected to select other suppliers for the Space-BACN program. Mynaric and other vendors will come up with ideas on how to produce constellation independent optical communication terminals that are smaller and less expensive than current models. DARPA said its goal is to have terminals capable of transferring data at speeds of 100 gigabits per second and costing around $ 100,000 each.

The Space-BACN program envisions an optical communications terminal that could be reconfigured to work with most of today’s inter-satellite optical link standards, said Tim Deaver, vice president of strategic solutions at Mynaric.

During the first 15 week phase of the program, the selected vendors will develop the architectural design. DARPA will then choose certain suppliers to continue in the next 14 month phase and develop a bench model of optical communication terminals. The companies selected for the final 20-month phase will build an actual prototype version of the future product.

Deaver said the Space-BACN program is looking for “scalable and affordable solutions to bridge the gap between future business and government communications architectures.”


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