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Proceedings Paper

Laser Communications Airborne Testbed: Potential For An Air-To-Satellite Laser Communications Link
Author(s): Robert J. Feldmann
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Paper Abstract

The Laser Communications Airborne Testbed (LCAT) offers an excellent opportunity for testing of an air-to-satellite laser communications link with the NASA Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS). The direct detection laser portion of the ACTS is suitable for examining the feasibility of an airborne terminal. Development of an airborne laser communications terminal is not currently part of the ACTS program; however, an air-to-satellite link is of interest. The Air Force performs airborne laser communications experiments to examine the potential usefulness of this technology to future aircraft. Lasers could be used, for example, by future airborne command posts and reconnaissance aircraft to communicate via satellite over long distances and transmit large quantities of data in the fastest way possible from one aircraft to another or to ground sites. Lasers are potentially secure, jam resistant and hard to detect and in this regard increase the survivability of the users. Under a contract awarded by Aeronautical Systems Division's Avionics Laboratory, a C-135E testbed aircraft belonging to ASD's 4950th Test Wing will be modified to create a Laser Communications Airborne Testbed. The contract is for development and fabrication of laser testbed equipment and support of the aircraft modification effort by the Test Wing. The plane to be modified is already in use as a testbed for other satellite communications projects and the LCAT effort will expand those capabilities. This analysis examines the characteristics of an LCAT to ACTS direct detection communications link. The link analysis provides a measure of the feasibility of developing an airborne laser terminal which will interface directly to the LCAT. Through the existence of the LCAT, the potential for development of an air-to-satellite laser communications terminal for the experimentation with the ACTS system is greatly enhanced.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 May 1988
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 0885, Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies, (2 May 1988); doi: 10.1117/12.976543
Show Author Affiliations
Robert J. Feldmann, Air Force Wright Aeronautical Laboratories (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 0885:
Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies
David L. Begley; Gerhard A. Koepf, Editor(s)

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