25 May 2011 Observations of atmospheric effects for FALCON laser communication system flight test
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Abstract
Free-space optical communication terminals have been designed and extensively tested in various configurations. The FALCON terminals are designed to operate on large unmanned airborne vehicles (UAVs) or piloted aircraft. They provide a secure, two-way air-to-air and air-to-ground data link. In the latest flight test a successful 132km link was established. The beacon lasers operated at half of their available power, which was sufficient to establish and maintain link for the full flight track. The data and beacon links remained locked for approximately 30 minutes during which both aircraft turned, banked, and experienced air turbulence. This demonstration proved that laser communications is possible with tip-tilt correction as the primary control system compensation. It further demonstrated that compact, low cost free-space optical communications are now available for test and evaluation of operational scenarios.
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T. Matthew Fletcher, James Cunningham, Daniel Baber, Dave Wickholm, Timothy Goode, Brian Gaughan, Stephen Burgan, Andrew Deck, David W. Young, Juan Juarez, Joseph Sluz, Janette Cohen, Patrick Stallings, and Brian K. Stadler "Observations of atmospheric effects for FALCON laser communication system flight test", Proc. SPIE 8038, Atmospheric Propagation VIII, 80380F (25 May 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.887407; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.887407
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