Chinese commercial satellite firm completes high-speed laser image transmission test

Changguang Satellite Technology (CGST) has conducted satellite-to-ground laser tests to improve its ability to transmit remote sensing data to Earth. The test involved its Jilin-1 MF02A04 remote sensing satellite and a vehicle-mounted laser communication ground station. The communication bandwidth reached 10Gbps, more than 10 times the traditional microwave data transmission bandwidth. In the future, Changguang Satellite plans to expand this bandwidth to 40Gbps ~100Gbps. The new ground stations will be deployed in numerous locations across China to greatly improve the Jilin-1 remote sensing image data acquisition. CGST is an offshoot from the Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Established in 2014, CGST has over 100 satellites in orbit, with some Jilin-1 Gaofen satellites returning panchromatic images with a resolution of 0.75 meters. The company announced last year that it intends to expand its Jilin-1 constellation from 138 satellites to 300 satellites by 2025.

Chinese state media praised the breakthrough with the vehicle-mounted ground station as China’s first successful test of a domestically developed, commercial satellite-based high-speed laser image transmission. CGST has already begun adding laser terminals to some of its satellites launched this year and is working on inter-satellite links to help China overcome a relative lack of global ground station access. Satellite ground segment providers around the globe are considering the viability of satellite-to-ground optical communications, noting both challenges and opportunities.