General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced on June 30, 2021 that, in partnership with the Space Development Agency (SDA), its Laser Interconnect and Networking Communications System (LINCS) satellites were successfully launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as part of the Transporter-2 mission from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida. The two 12U cubesats that make up the LINCS system were successfully deployed into orbit and have begun satellite commissioning and operations. This launch marks the first successful launch of SDA payloads since the agency was established in 2019.
«Congratulations to SDA on this historic milestone. We look forward to continue supporting them over the next several months as the GA-EMS LINCS system is used to demonstrate space-based optical communication and validate its efficacy for the future national security space architecture», stated Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. «I am extremely proud of the GA-EMS team, whose tireless work and remarkable efforts over the past few years have led to a successful launch and deployment of this important technology».
The LINCS system is comprised of two 12U cubesats each hosting a C-band dual-wavelength full duplex Optical Communication Terminal (OCT) and an InfraRed (IR) payload, with all elements internally designed and built by GA-EMS at their facilities in San Diego, CA and Huntsville, AL. In partnership with SDA, this is among the first Department of Defense contracted efforts to develop and deploy a state-of-the-art 1550 nm OCT to test capabilities to increase the speed, reliability, distance, and variability of communication in space.
«Optical communication will significantly augment space-based communication, and the launch of the GA-EMS LINCS system is the first step in proving this critical technology in space», added Nick Bucci, vice president of Missile Defense and Space Systems. «Our next checkpoint is to establish the proper orbit, communication and control of the two spacecraft. From there, we will work with SDA and commence a series of experiments testing optical communication in a variety of operational scenarios».