In-Space Missions is a UK SME based in Bordon, Hampshire.
Specifically, the satellite will support the ‘Titania Operational Concept Demonstrator’ which is exploring the military usefulness of Low Earth Orbit (LEO), direct-to-earth, free-space optical communications (FSOC).
Due to be launched in 2023, it is described as being approximately the size of a washing machine.
According to the government organisation, FSOC has the potential to significantly improve military communications by transferring large volumes of data, at multi-Gigabytes per second, with a low risk of detection or interception.
It works by transmitting data at high speeds via narrow laser beams between two very specific points.
On a Shakespearean theme, ‘Titania’ will communicate with ‘Puck’, which is DSTL’s new Optical Ground Station.
“The Titania space mission will accelerate the development and adoption of space-based optical communications, allowing our Armed Forces the ability to operate in an increasingly contested environment,” said DSTL’s space programme manager, Dr Mike O’Callaghan.
The Titania satellite will support the UK space sector and provide a solid foundation on which to conduct experimentation into FSOC and allow the science to be developed. We are delighted to be working with In-Space Missions on this highly innovative project.”
The technology could be used for future military satellite communications, says DSTL, potentially providing high speed connectivity to link air, land and maritime platforms.
The building of the satellite could directly support 20 jobs at the company and in the UK supply chain.
“Following our stand-up as a Joint Command, the Titania satellite contract is the next exciting step for the UK in space,” said Commander of UK Space Command, Air Vice Marshal Paul Godfrey.
“It’s a brilliant example of the partnerships being developed and enhanced across the UK space enterprise, developing capabilities that not only enable military operations, but underpin countless activities essential to our way of life and the safety of our nation.”
The contract to build the satellite was awarded through the Serapis Lot 2 commercial framework, run by Dstl in collaboration with BAE Systems.
The framework aims, says DSTL, to reach non-traditional defence suppliers, small and medium-sized enterprises, and academia.