The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has succeeded in bidirectional laser communication between the ground station and a small device it installed on the exterior of the Kibo experimental module on the International Space Station (ISS). The small device was jointly installed by JAXA, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), and Sony subsidiary Sony Computer Science Laboratories (CSL).
JAXA and Sony jointly developed the small communications device by applying Sony’s technology used for such optical disc products as CDs and Blu-ray discs. It was delivered to the ISS by the Kounotori 8 unmanned cargo spacecraft in September 2019. In March 2020, a bidirectional laser communication link with the NICT’s ground station using a laser beam was successfully established and high-definition images were successfully received at the ground station.
Communications between space and the ground or between satellites primarily use radio waves. But using lasers makes high-speed, high-capacity communications possible. The device was made based on Sony’s commercial technology. The company says the small device would be easy to mass-produce. JAXA and others will continue conducting experiments until around early June in order to improve communication safety.