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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Optical communications between an aircraft and a geo relay satellite: design and flight results of the LOLA demonstrator
Author(s): L. Vaillon; G. Planche; V. Chorvalli; L. Le Hors

Paper Abstract

On December 5th, 2006, a laser link was for the first time established between an optical terminal on-board an aircraft flying at 9,000 m and the SILEX terminal on the Artemis geostationary satellite. This world first event was the result of the 3-year demonstration program LOLA performed by EADS Astrium for the arms procurement agency of the French Ministry of Defense (DGA) to investigate the feasibility of high data rate optical communications through the atmosphere. This first link was followed by a 6-month flight test campaign totalizing more than 50 successful communication sessions over 20 flights. The campaign allowed assessing the operational link performances (bit error rate before and after decoding, availability) in a variety of flight conditions (altitude and weather) and to correlate the model of optical propagation in the atmosphere. The test campaign was concluded by realtime data transmission offering HD video quality between the aircraft and the DGA stand at the Paris "Le Bourget" Air Show.

In addition to the technical challenges common to instruments with sub-μrad pointing requirements (e.g. highly stable structures), optical communications set specific challenges on the optical design and on the detection chain.
  • High level of isolation between emission and reception to handle the huge ratio (~109) between emitted and received laser power levels (~150 mW and 20 to 200 pW);
  • Efficient straylight protection to communicate with the Sun down to 5 deg from the field of view;
  • Accurate co-alignment between emission and reception directions

    Paper Details

    Date Published: 29 November 2017
    PDF: 8 pages
    Proc. SPIE 10566, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2008, 1056619 (29 November 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2308195
    Show Author Affiliations
    L. Vaillon, EADS Astrium Satellites (France)
    G. Planche, EADS Astrium Satellites (France)
    V. Chorvalli, EADS Astrium Satellites (France)
    L. Le Hors, EADS Astrium Satellites (France)

    Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10566:
    International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2008
    Josiane Costeraste; Errico Armandillo; Nikos Karafolas, Editor(s)

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