"SPARCL" High Bandwidth Space-to-Ground Data Transmission System Concept
An optical communication system using a high altitude tethered balloon 10 that operates above most clouds and atmospheric turbulence. An optical communication system includes a balloon 10 with an optical communication payload 30, a fiber optic cable attached to the tether 12, an automated winch system 14, and a ground station 28. The balloon 10 is designed for sustained flight at, and recovery from, high altitude using the automated winch system 14. An acquisition, tracking and pointing (ATP) system 22 enables a balloon-based optical transceiver 24 to maintain line-of-sight optical communications with an overhead satellite 34. The optical link between the satellite 34 and the balloon 10 is an open channel. Data is transmitted to the ground station 28 from the balloon 10 through the secure fiber optic closed channel attached to the tether 12.
Patent Status: U.S. patent(s) 7,046,934 issued.
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