The Possibilities of Optical Communication from the CCO of Mynaric is Leading the Satellite and Optical Communication.【Consider the Future of Earth Together with Serika Ito #10】

Even we call “Space Development”, there are various purposes, technologies, and missions. In this series, we consider the current situation and the future of space development together with our Chief Dream Officer(CDO), Serika Ito.

The theme of this time is optical communications. Tina Ghataore, CCO of Mynaric, a startup company from Germany, is our guest and discuss the potential of optical communication.

Want to build a base on a planet.

Tina: Hi, my name is Tina Ghataore and I am the CCO at Mynaric. Serika, you have been to the International Space Station (ISS) before!

Serika: Yes, I stayed on the ISS as a JAXA astronaut!

Tina: I’m so jealous! I would like to go to space someday. I always talk about how “ I will go to any planet” to the people around me. My dream is to go to a planet, build a base, and communicate with others from there!

Serika: Communicate?

Tina: Yes! I work for Mynaric, a startup company that manufactures optical communication terminals for satellites, airplanes, balloons, and ground stations. It was founded as a spin-off from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and after more than 10 years of research and development, we have acquired the knowledge to produce high-quality optical communication devices.

Optical communication enables high-throughput, secure point-to-point communication.

We hope to help realize a world in which the different domains of ground, air,

and space are networked together. With optical communications, we should be able to do a lot of things to make our lives better, and even create the means to go explore other planets knowing we can remain connected

Serika: That’s exciting!

Currently, astronauts on the ISS can freely use the Internet, and an increasing number of them are sending out information about their life in space via blogs and SNS. The communication speed of the ISS Internet connection is gradually improving.

However, the current Internet connection on the ISS is communicating with multiple data relay satellites, and there is a problem that communication with the ground is interrupted when the relay satellites are switched…

It would be wonderful if we could keep in touch with our family and friends in space as easily as we do on the ground.

I heard that there is a plan to install Mynaric optical communication terminals on the ISS. If it is put into practical use, the range of things that can be done on the ISS is likely to expand.

Potential of satellite × optical communication

Serika: In what other situations can optical communications be useful?

Tina: First of all, it can be used for Earth observation satellites! There are various types of Earth observation satellites, each of which takes images in its frequency band. We then receive the images from the satellite on the ground and analyze them to get the data we need.

Nowadays, it is common for large ground stations to receive images from satellites and then transmit them to research institutes and companies that analyze the images using ground-based communication networks. With optical communications, users will be able to get data more quickly, as images can be sent point to point to where they are needed, rather than through ground stations.

Serika: If satellite images can be downloaded more quickly, it could help us assess the damage in the event of a disaster!

Tina: That is why satellites are expected to play an important role as terrestrial communication infrastructure in times of disaster can be interrupted.

In January 2022, an undersea volcano in the Kingdom of Tonga, an island nation in the South Pacific, erupted on a massive scale. Terrifyingly, the eruption and tsunami damaged undersea cables, rendering communication facilities inoperable.

Serika: With communications cut off, the situation in the area was not well communicated, and many people in Japan were worried about the situation.

Tina: If we can provide satellite communications to the areas hit by this kind of disaster, we will be able to help and communicate with many people.

And, after all, one of the features of optical communications is that there are no restrictions on frequency bandwidth so networks can be deployed faster. In radio communication, frequency bands are controlled to prevent interference with other users’ radio waves. The available frequency bands are allocated by country and by industry, such as military, social infrastructure, and medical.

Furthermore, to use a frequency band, an application must be submitted to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and other in-country authorities, and it takes several years on average to obtain permission to communicate. Optical communication has the advantage of eliminating the need for coordination since there is no interference.

Space technology contributes to life on the Earth

Tina: Optical communication is not only useful on the ISS and satellites. It is beginning to be used in various situations.

For example, there are billions of people in the world who do not have access to the Internet, and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is working on “Project Taara” to provide Internet access via optical communication to areas where telecommunication infrastructure is not yet developed. The service was launched in the Republic of Congo in September 2021.

Project Taara&Project Loon

Alphabet had been working on Project Loon, which provided Internet access via balloons, but its termination was announced in January 2021. Project Taara is being implemented by leveraging the knowledge gained from Project Loon.

We are connecting the Congo River, which is about 4.5 km wide, with optical communications over the Congo River. In other words, we are utilizing the technology we use in space and in the sky to provide communication to places where communication was impossible with conventional methods.

Serika: If the Internet becomes widespread and the digital divide (information gap) is solved, it can contribute to closing the education gap between developed and developing countries, right?

Tina: Yes, that’s right!

By the way, I heard that Serika was a doctor before you became an astronaut.

Communication infrastructure is needed to transmit medical data generated from a large amount of image data, such as the results of X-rays and echo examinations.

For example, we can envision a situation where a doctor in a hospital on a remote island in Asia would like to transfer medical data to receive medical assistance from a specialist in Europe. There are many areas in the world where optical fiber is not well maintained, such as remote areas and island regions, and I think optical communication is of great value in such areas.

Furthermore, medical data must be handled with care because it contains personal information. Therefore, highly secure optical communication can be used with peace of mind. The ability to transfer data at high speed is another useful point.

Serika: You are also expected to contribute to the medical field! Helping people communicate with each other in real-time, wherever they are, can also provide access to education, employment opportunities, and appropriate medical care, and I see it as something that will have a large effect.

Tina: Yes, that’s right. We at Mynaric value diversity.

We see every day that innovation in advanced technologies happens when people of all walks of life — men and women, old and young, scientists and corporate marketers — talk to each other. The diversity of ideas creates the products of the future.

Serika: I also feel the importance of diversity of ideas as I work with people from various backgrounds.

I believe that society will be enriched if more people can participate in decision-making regardless of their location. Thank you!

The tenth guest in the series of conversations with Astronaus Serika was Tina Ghataore, CCO of Mynaric, and Serika discussed “How society will change if satellite optical communication becomes widely used”.

In the next session, the guest is JAXA Washington DC branch Director Katsumi Onoda. She will talk about the work of JAXA’s representative office and the highlights of the Artemis missions.



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

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