Skyloom To Integrate Laser Comms In Satellogic Earth Observation Sat

A geostationary laser communications relay promises faster downlinking, Skyloom says.

Credit: Skyloom

Skyloom Global Corp. has signed an agreement to integrate its laser communication terminal onto Satellogic Earth observation satellites.

The deal is a step toward Skyloom of Broomfield, Colorado, setting up a laser communication network based on SkyCompass-1, a geostationary data relay satellite positioned over Asia, Skyloom said on Sept. 15.

Satellogic plans to test send Earth observation data back to the ground through the SkyCompass-1 geostationary satellite and via direct downlink while in low Earth orbit (LEO). 

“As a first step in its commissioning, the Satellogic spacecraft will conduct a low Earth orbit LEO-to-ground link by handshaking with Skyloom’s optical ground station in Broomfield, Colorado,” SkyLoom says.

The Satellogic-Skyloom agreement comes after Satellogic says it studied whether its Mark-V small satellite could establish a laser communications link.

The SkyCompass-1 satellite is a joint project established in 2022 between Skyloom and Space Compass (Space Compass is a joint venture between Japanese telecommunications company NTT and Japanese satellite broadcast company Sky Perfect JSAT.) The companies plan to have the geostationary relay start service in 2025.

A geostationary relay satellite might allow operators of LEO Earth observation satellites another means by which to send data back to the ground. LEO satellites are typically only able to transmit data when they pass over a radio or laser terminal ground station. That bottleneck limits the speed and amount of data that can be transmitted back to Earth.

However, a geostationary satellite hovering far above Earth might give a satellite more time to offload data–information the geostationary satellite would then transmit back to Earth. Skyloom and Space Compass say this will allow Earth observation satellites to quickly downlink large amounts of data.

Garrett Reim

Based in the Seattle area, Garrett covers the space sector and advanced technologies that are shaping the future of aerospace and defense, including space startups, advanced air mobility and artificial intelligence.