Mynaric artist's concept of a satellite equipped with optical communications terminals. Credit: Mynaric

WASHINGTON — Mynaric, a supplier of laser communications terminals, was selected by the Space Development Agency to design an optical ground station to transmit and receive data from satellites in low Earth orbit.

The ground terminal will be used to demonstrate communications with the Space Development Agency’s mesh network of military satellites. SDA, an organization under the U.S. Space Force, is building a constellation of hundreds of satellites, each equipped with multiple laser communications terminals. 

SDA awarded Mynaric a two-year $3 million contract to design an optical ground terminal and demonstrate connections with space-based optical communications terminals. One of the challenges of optical communications is that it can be disrupted by atmospheric interference such as clouds. 

The ground terminal will include a large telescope and laser transmitter and receiver. It has to be interoperable with optical communication terminals on SDA’s satellites made by different suppliers. Mynaric supplies a portion of those terminals but SDA’s constellation — known as the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture — also uses terminals from other manufacturers

All optical terminals installed on SDA satellites have to comply with technical specifications and standards issued by the agency.

“The collaboration with the SDA marks a significant milestone in advancing laser communications technology and paves the way for enhanced connectivity in the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture,” said Joachim Horwath, chief technology officer at Mynaric. 

Tim Deaver, Mynaric’s vice president of U.S. government sales, said “delivering highly sensitive information and data to the ground is an important component of enabling data transfer between all domains.” 

Mynaric’s contract was a competitive award under SDA’s Systems, Technologies and Emerging Concepts (STEC) Broad Agency Announcement.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...