Optical Fiber Amplifiers and Laser Modules for Satellite Communications

It has been a very busy year for G&H’s R&D and this year we will report on our progress within the space photonics and quantum technologies programs at Photonics West 2017 in San Francisco. Specifically within space photonics, we will present latest developments in radiation-resistant optical fiber amplifiers, as well as transmission and pump laser modules for space communications and remote sensing.

The presentations will be a great opportunity to increase awareness of our intense development efforts to commercialize photonic components, modules and sub-systems for high-speed satellite laser communications in collaboration with major satellite manufacturers and Space Agencies around the world.

Within the Photonics West conference, there will be a series of presentations under the Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation (Subsystems) umbrella. G&H will be presenting two papers.

The first paper [10096-15] focuses on the development of optical fiber amplifiers (OFAs). OFAs are key building blocks in laser communication terminals and telecom photonic payloads. The paper will cover our development of 1.55 μm mid-power booster amplifiers and pre-amplifiers that can find application in LEO-to-ground, LEO/GEO relays and flexible photonic payloads. We have validated our optical designs in the relevant space environment by characterizing the performance against ionizing radiation and we have also validated our system integration and assembly processes through unit-level environmental tests that included vibration, shock and temperature cycling in a vacuum.

The mid-power booster amplifier presented in this paper is part of our Hydra product line suitable for air to ground and satellite to ground links. The results presented are the precursor of our Qualification/Proto-Flight Model that has started qualification with the ultimate aim to be deployed in a potential in Orbit Demonstration to be led by Thales Alenia Space Switzerland next year. The pre-amplifier reported is part of our PEGASUS product line, which is currently in development and targets bi-di satellite communications and future LEO uplinks. A pre-amplifier variant is currently under development within a commercial contract, with a launch opportunity by 2019 on-board a LEO/GEO inter-satellite link.

In the second paper [10096-16] we present G&H’s progress on the development and space-qualification of high-power distributed feedback (DFB) lasers and single and multi-mode pump laser modules for laser communications, navigation and flexible photonic payload systems.

The motivation behind this development effort is the inclusion of the device on ESA’s European Preferred Parts List (EPPL) after the qualification phase completes. The specific laser module is epoxy-free, fully hermetic and exhibits ~50% lower power consumption when compared to conventional 14-pin butterfly packaged DFB lasers.

G&H is also working on high and low-brightness pump lasers, as they are vital components within our optical fiber amplifiers. Similar to our DFB laser packaging approach, the pump lasers are hermetically sealed and organic-free, due to the use of our laser welding and seam sealing processes.

G&H has a coherent space systems development policy, which is multi-site and market driven. Our expertise in developing space-grade photonic technology is rooted in our tradition of designing and manufacturing high-reliability (HI-REL) components and modules based on the telecoms 1.55 µm wavelength band, such as for “never-fail” undersea links. The combination of our heritage on the component level, coupled with our capability to manufacture modules and sub-systems in a reliable and a repeatable way, makes G&H the ideal partner for future high-volume space photonic sub-systems.

The development of components and systems for the space communications markets is not opportunistic – it’s strategic.

G&H Photonics West presentation references

(1) 10096-15 – Radiation-resistant optical fiber amplifiers for satellite communications
on Monday, January 30th
L. Stampoulidis, J. Edmunds, M. Kechagias, G. Stevens, J. Farzana, M. Welch
and E. Kehayas, G&H (Torquay), Broomhill Way, Torquay, Devon, TQ2 7QL, United Kingdom

(2) 10096-16 – Transmission and pump laser modules for space applications
on Monday, January 30th
J. MacDougall, P. Henderson, P. Naylor, J. Elder, A. Norman, I. Turner, L. Stampoulidis and E. Kehayas, G&H (Torquay), Broomhill Way, Torquay, Devon, TQ2 7QL, United Kingdom
and G&H (Boston), 7 Oak Park Drive Bedford, MA 01730, USA