Free-space laser communication systems have been envisioned for satellite-to-satellite links for the past 30 years. To date no demonstration hardware has been placed in orbh, although present programs have this as a near term goal. Operational requirements frequently can be satisfied by either laser or rf based systems. In a comparison between the two base technologies it is frequently held that laser communications offers the more costly approach. This paper reviews the economic factors and addresses the cost drivers behind laser communication systems. Examples of such drivers are optics quality, aperture size, transmitter power, pointing error, and system weight. Requirements are presented to form baseline specifications for a geo-geo crosslink application. Analysis of cost drivers and recommendations are presented for terminal development.
David L. Begley,
Robert G. Marshalek,
"Economic factors for a free-space laser communication system", Proc. SPIE 1522, Optical Space Communication II, (1 May 1991); doi: 10.1117/12.46078; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.46078