Starlink to the Commercial Space Station!? Optical Communication Network Deployed in LEO .【Space Symposium 2024 Part Ⅰ】

Warpspace Inc.
4 min readMay 10, 2024

The Space Symposium, one of the world’s largest satellite industry conferences, was held April 8–11, 2024, in Colorado Springs. The Space Symposium 2024 is the 39th annual conference organized by the Space Foundation, a non-profit organization that organizes a wide range of information, education, and event management related to space utilization. Along with SATELLITE, held every March in Washington, DC, and the Smallsat Conference, held every August in Logan, Utah, the Space Symposium is considered one of the three largest events in the U.S. satellite industry.

The Space Symposium is a huge event that usually attracts more than 10,000 attendees each year, but this year’s total number of participants exceeded 30,000, making it one of the most exciting events ever. While the topics cover a very wide range of areas, from satellite communications, Earth observation satellites, and launch-related topics to large rovers in deep space and the space station, topics related to security are of particular interest.

This article summarizes the insights that Warpspace CSO Hirokazu Mori gained on-site. Among the news presented at the conference, this article focuses on the topics that particularly caught Mori’s attention shown below.

  1. Optical communication between the commercial space station and Starlink
  2. Pentagon and United States Space Force release strategic documents
  3. Toyota’s Pressurized Lunar Rover and Two Japanese Astronauts to the Moon

The first part is about “1. Optical communication between the commercial space station and Starlink ”.

(For a report on the 38th Space Symposium, which Mori attended last year, click here.)
(Click here for the second part and here for the third part.)

Vast Space and SpaceX Partnership

One of the most important topics related to optical communication networks in space is the partnership between SpaceX and Vast Space, a company developing commercial space stations. March 2024, SpaceX announced plans(*2) to sell the laser communications system developed for the Starlink satellite to other satellite manufacturers, and it was announced that the laser communications system will be installed on Vast Space’s Haven-1, which is expected to be the world’s first commercial space station.

(*1 [Vast] Vast’s Haven-1 to be World’s First Commercial Space Station Connected by SpaceX Starlink)

(*2 [Warpspace Note] [Commentary on the latest trends in the space business] SpaceX’s new entry into the laser optical communication terminal market! Can it compete with SDA-compliant terminals? [WarpSpace CSO talks: SATELLITE 2024 Part 2])

An image of Vast’s Haven-1 commercial space station connected to the Starlink satellite network via laser. (*1)

This will allow the Haven-1 crew to connect their devices to the Starlink network, providing them with a high-speed, low-latency Internet connection in orbit. This partnership between Vast Space and SpaceX anticipates Starlink connectivity to commercial space stations beyond Haven 1 and could set the standard for commercial space station communications.

Movement toward “HydRON” optical communication network in Europe

Meanwhile, as a move toward the “HydRON (High Throughput Optical Network),” an optical communication network planned by the European Space Agency (ESA), a partnership between Kepler Communications, a Canadian satellite communications venture company, TESAT-Spacecom, a German optical communication terminal (OCT) manufacturer, and Airbus Defense and Space, Inc. (*3) has also been announced (*4).

(*3 [Spacewatch Europe] Kepler to Develop In-Space Communications Network for HydRON)

Kepler Communications signs MOU with German OCT manufacturer TESAT-Spacecom and Airbus Defense and Space (*3)

Optical Communication Networks in LEO and MEO

These optical communication networks are mainly deployed in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). In particular, satellite constellations in LEO, such as Starlink, build communication networks by deploying a large number of communication satellites to cover the narrow coverage (the area on the ground where one satellite can communicate), which is a disadvantage of LEO.

On the other hand, WarpHub InterSat, which is being developed by Warpspace, will be deployed in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), and since the satellite will be deployed in a higher orbit than LEO, it will have much wider coverage, which is an advantage and will cover a wide area and aim to build a large-capacity optical communication network. The goal is to build a large-capacity optical communications network that can cover a wide area with low latency.

In the market for optical communication networks, which is showing signs of development with LEO as a foothold, please stay tuned on how Warpspace will contribute to the society in the future.

(Writer: Junichiro Nakazawa)



Warpspace Inc.

Warpspace develops “WarpHub InterSat”, an optical inter-satellite data relay service. We will realize this service for LEO Sat operators by 2025.