OISL Can Become a Game-Changer in Disaster Management. Report of Satellite 2022
One of the world’s largest satellite industry conferences, “Satellite” has been placed in Washington D.C. CSO, Hirokazu Mori has participated in a panel together with Derek Tournear, a Director of Space Development Agency (SDA), and discussed the current trend and future of an inter-satellite link and optical communication in space. This is a digest report of Satellite 2022.
Tina Ghataore, COO of Mynaric, wins the Satellite Executive of the Year 2021
“Satellite” is a historic conference that has been placed over 40 years. This time, “Satellite 2022” was held from the 21st of March for 3 days in a hybrid style of virtual and onsite.
From Japan, Sky Perfect JSAT Group was sponsoring the event, and Pale Blue who develops a water thruster for CubeSats showed up at the exhibition.
Mori has attended “Satellite” before, but he felt increasing attention from the crowd to the inter-satellite link and optical communication.
Among the popular faces in the industry such as Mitsunobu Okada, CEO of Astroscale, Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb listed as a nominee, Tina Ghataore won the “Satellite Executive of the Year Award 2021”.This award is given to the director who made great achievements in the satellite industry in the year 2021. Mynaric is a Germany-based company that develops optical communication terminals to install satellites.
Moreover, a panel discussion titled, “Laser, RF, and the Future of Inter-Satellite Links” gathered large attention from the audience making a long queue outside of the session room.
How Could Optical Communication be Utilized？
The panelists of “ Laser, RF, and the Future of Inter-Satellite Links” were consisted of Derek Tounear, a Director of SDA, Bulent Altan, CEO of Mynaric, Michael Abad-Santos, CEO of BridgeComm, Gulvinder Chohan, CEO of QSTC Inc, and Hirokazu Mori, CSO of WARPSPACE, moderated by Susan Hastings.
Here are the key topics discussed in the panel:
・Compatibility and interoperability
・Importance of trying new technology with taking risks
・Communication protocol in outer space
First is the “Compatibility and interoperability”. Derek, the Director of SDA shared his thoughts on this point enthusiastically with slides.
“We care about the responsiveness to every single incident that happens simultaneously from a national security perspective. SDA aims to construct the mesh network which enables to get access to various functions or data on the optimized route instantaneously and seamlessly like as internet on the ground. Since the interference is more likely to happen in the RF network, the optical link would be the best option to build the next-gen communication network.”
The second is “The importance of trying new technology with taking risks”. This is like a chicken-and-egg argument, where there are two opposing positions; “Usage of inter-satellite link and optical communication can be only considered once it is evaluated in orbit”, and
“Feasibility of the technology can only be proved by in-orbit demonstration who is willing to take advantage of it”.
Now, some players such as SDA have emerged which can make a bridge between them taking the risks, and hence the commercialization of those technologies has been accelerated. WARPSPACE is one of the players willing to contribute to proving the feasibility of optical inter-satellite link communication in orbit.
The last is about “Communication protocol in outer space”. Generally, TCP/IP is the major protocol that is used for the internet on the ground. On the other hand, since the communication link is physically interrupted frequently in space, TCP/IP is not exactly the most ideal protocol for communication even utilizing the data relay satellite. On that premise, “We should consider constructing a network with a combination of technologies such as Bundle Protocol and TCP/IP.”, Hirokazu said. Many audiences agreed with this point.
Bundle Protocol is a communication method for deep space exploration developed by NASA.
Also, the moderator gave the following question,
“What would be the most matured domain as an application of EO data and optical communication?”.
Hirokazu answered, “Disaster management would be one of the major applications”.
Additionally, he mentioned a volcanic eruption and Tsunami that happened in Tonga, and a huge earthquake that struck Japan just a week ago before the conference which has caused a massive power outage in Tokyo as an example that EO data could be utilized to respond as swiftly as possible. In this sense, it is meaningful for Government to invest in these domains.
Before this panel session, SDA has announced that they will invest 1.8B USD to build their Transport Layer Tranche 1 constellation which is one of the possible reasons people had a strong interest in not only this panel but in other related sessions as well.
As this case shows, in the United States, we find that there is an ecosystem to get the market and new technology matured by SDA or related Governmental organizations lead with strategic investment. This great ecosystem makes the commercialization of optical communication accelerated.
This methodology shall apply to the Japanese space industry as well, where we see rising demands for improving the capability of national security and disaster management. If the Government may become more proactive to try new technologies involving the commercial sectors through Anchor-tenancy, the technology and market could be more advanced.
Looking back on the Satellite 2022
It has been 2 years since people have had an onsite event after the pandemic. It was a special time more than ever for the relevant people to catch up with and get access to new relations.
We feel that the global space industry will speed up its growth drastically through this event with many having had the opportunity to physically sight the latest trend.
As if it was celebrating such dramatic moments in the conference, cherry blossoms were in full bloom throughout the city of Washington D.C.
It says that these cherry trees originate from a gift of friendship from Japan in 1912. Thinking romantically, it felt like it was celebrating our new chapter and the dawn of the commercialization of optical communication. Or it may be implying a positive sign of the Japan-U.S relationship that we shall build from now on. “Satellite 2022” was a fruitful event for WARPSPACE.