The push for LEO global coverage
Many competing projects of satellite operators promise to launch thousands of satellites that can bring global internet coverage. For example, SpaceX plans to launch nearly 12 000 internet-beaming satellites, while, OneWeb plans to launch close to 2000, all in the next few years. Low-Earth orbiting satellites (LEOs) are often deployed in satellite constellations, because the coverage area provided by a single LEO satellite only covers a small area that moves as the satellite travels at the high angular velocity needed to maintain its orbit.
Optical interconnect solutions reduce payload weight and harnessing complexity.
Optical interconnect helps lowering the weight of every satellite which help reducing the launching price and the resulting price per bit for satellite operator. Optical interconnects help improve the cost-effectiveness of high-throughput LEO constellation satellites and SpaceABLE and the SpaceCONEX radiation-resistant optical transceivers, with their intrinsic radiation resistance, are the best COTS optical interconnect for LEO space vehicles.
Hence, many LEO satellites are needed to maintain continuous coverage over an area and compete with Earth fibered network. This contrasts with geostationary satellites, where a single satellite, moving at the same angular velocity as the rotation of the Earth’s surface, provides permanent coverage over a large area. Broadband applications benefit from low-latency communications offered by LEO satellite constellations. A LEO satellite constellation can also provide more system capacity by frequency reuse across its coverage.