August 4, 2021

Flying CubeCAT laser terminal by AAC Clyde subsidiary Hyperion

2 min read

AAC Clyde Space affiliate Hyperion Technologies has secured a 150,000 euro ($185,000) deal for CubeCAT, the firm’s small satellite laser communications station, to execute an in-orbit verification mission. On January 5, Hyperion communicated plans to launch CubeCAT on NorSat-TD, a research demonstration flight organized by the Norwegian Space Agency, in 2022. Financial support for the CubeCAT demo arises from the ScyLight initiative of the European Space Agency that funds optical communications processing demonstrations, photonics as well as quantum communications. The optical communications validation flight is sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Defense as well as the Dutch Space Office.

“This is excellent news for the Delft team, demonstrating a remarkable pace in their plans to enhance the latest small satellite communication system which is based on laser,” Luis Gomes, Chief executive of AAC Clyde Space, stated in a statement. “This is an innovation that will speed up our implementation of space missions which are data-intensive, opening the way for more effective Earth satellite tracking and, in the coming years, for more complex space data communication networks.” The validation of CubeCAT will be based on a network of optic ground facilities, including the stations being built by the Dutch Independent Research Institute (TNO) in the Netherlands and the ESA ground stations, which are situated in Tenerife, Spain.

Hyperion, a Dutch firm purchased in October by AAC Clyde Company, created the laser terminal CubeCAT that has TNO.  The CubeCAT terminal that integrates into a standard cube unit is built to downlink satellite data at the speeds of a maximum of 1 gigabit per second as well as to uplink data at a maximum of 200 kilobits per second.

For small satellites, the laser transmission terminal can significantly enhance and promote data exchange. Currently, small satellites are using restricted bandwidth as well as high power demand radio communications, the technology that severely limits the capacity of current small satellites to transmit growing quantities of data gathered in space. It sometimes takes from one to two years to secure a license to transmit and receive on the dedicated radiofrequency. For laser contact, there seem to be no space restrictions or licensing needs.

Hyperion Technologies became a wholly-owned affiliate company of the AAC Clyde Space AB. It runs from its current station in Delft, near one of the best aerospace universities in the Europe continent, and acts as a source for the firm’s high-caliber researchers and technicians. This is a reinforcement of the group’s involvement within the European Union. With the latest capabilities, AAC provides new solutions, including the implementation of the optical communications networks for turnkey space missions as well as the Space as a Service sector. This acquisition advanced the firm’s vision to expand its market share, which is currently expected to be worth $2 billion a year, increasing to $3-4 billion by 2022.

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