European Space Agency

Next-Generation Telecommunication Payloads based on Photonic Technologies


1.     To define a set of Payload Requirements for future Satellite TLC Missions. These requirements and relevant P/L architecture have been used in the project as Reference Payloads (“TN1: Payload Requirements for future Satellite Telecommunication Missions”)
2.     To review of relevant photonic technologies, signal processing and communications on board telecommunication satellites and To identify novel approaches of photonic digital communication & processing for use in space scenarios for the future satellite communications missions (“TN2: to review and select Photonic Technologies for the Signal Processing and Communication functions relevant to future Satellite TLC P/L”)

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 3.    To define a preliminary design and layouts of innovative, digital and analogue payload architectures making use of photonic technologies, and  to perform a comparison between the preliminary design of the photonic payloads with the corresponding conventional implementations, and outline the benefits that can justify the use of photonic technologies in future satellite communications missions. (“TN3: Preliminary Designs of Photonic Payload architecture concepts, Trade off with Electronic Design and Selection of Photonic Payloads to be further investigated

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4.     TRL identification for the potential photonic technologies and the possible telecommunication payload architectures selected in the previous phase. Definition of the roadmap for the development, qualification and fligt of photonic items and payloads. (“TN4: Photonic Technologies and Payload Architecture Development Roadmap”)
 5.    To investigate about a possible mission and architecture solutions which leads to the definition of a Photonic Payload In Orbit Demonstrator (2PIOD), which is necessary to push Photonic Technology into the commercial field. (“TN5: Definition of Photonic Payload for In-Orbit Test Demonstration”) 




Identify the benefits coming from the application of photonic technologies in TLC P/L.

Define mission/payload architecture showing a real interest (technical and economical) of optical technology versus microwave technology.

Establish new design rules for optical/microwave engineering

Develop hardware with an emerging technology in the space domain


If the optical technology appears as a breaking technology compare to microwave technology, a new family product could be developed at EQM level in order to cope to business segment evolution needs.
The main benefit which can be expected from the photonic technologies is to provide new flexible payload architecture opportunities with higher performance with respect to the conventional implementations in terms of:
Main expected benefit, derived from the use of photonic technologies to TLC P/L Architecture, is to provide new flexible payload architecture opportunities with higher performance with respect to the conventional implementations. Further benefits are expected in terms of:
  • Payload Mass;
  • Payload Volume;
  • Payload Power Consumption and Dissipation;
  •  Data and RF Harness;
  • EMC/EMI and RF isolation issues.
All these features impacts directly on the:
  • Payload functionality;
  • Selected platform size;
  •  Launcher selection;
At the end, an overall cost reduction for the manufacturing of a Payload/Satellite is expected. 


 The study permits to:


identify the benefit coming from the migration from conventional to  photonic technology


To identify critical optical components which needs of a delta-development


To identify a Photonic Payload for in-orbit demonstrator 


 Study Logic of the Project: 

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Current status

 The study is completed

Status date

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 - 15:08