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OWLS: a ten-year history in optical wireless links for intra-satellite communications

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25 Author(s)
Arruego, I. ; Nat. Inst. for Aerosp. Tech., INTA, Madrid, Spain ; Guerrero, H. ; Rodriguez, S. ; Martinez-Oter, J.
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The application of Optical Wireless Links to intra- Spacecraft communications (OWLS) is presented here. This work summarizes ten years of developments, ranging from basic optoelectronic parts and front-end electronics, to different inorbit demonstrations. Several wireless applications were carried out in representative environments at ground level, and on in-flight experiments. A completely wireless satellite will be launched at the beginning of 2010. The benefits of replacing standard data wires and connectors with wireless systems are: mass reduction, flexibility, and simplification of the Assembly, Integration and Tests phases (AIT). However, the Aerospace and Defense fields need high reliability solutions. The use of COTS (Commercial-Off-The- Shelf) parts in these fields require extensive analyses in order to attain full product assurance. The current commercial optical wireless technology needs a deep transformation in order to be fully applicable in the aforementioned fields. Finally, major breakthroughs for the implementation of optical wireless links in Space will not be possible until dedicated circuits such as mixed analog/digital ASICs are developed. Once these products become available, it will also be possible to extend optical wireless links to other applications, such as Unmanned Air and Underwater Vehicles (UAV and UUV). The steps taken by INTA to introduce Optical Wireless Links in the Space environment are presented in this paper.

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Selected Areas in Communications, IEEE Journal on  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 9 )