Rassvet-2 satellite in orbit. Credit: Bjuro-1440

Success for the First Russian Laser Inter-satellite Communication Tests

Bjuro-1440 completed the first laser inter-satellite communications tests, a successful experience of laser communications with domestically produced equipment

On May 30, 2024, the Russian private company Bjuro-1440 completed the first laser inter-satellite communications tests. More than 200 GB were transferred at 10 Gbps between spacecraft more than 30 km apart. At the same time, the average bit error rate (BER)was less than 10-11, comparable to fiber optic communication lines.

Rassvet-2 satellite during assembly. Credit: Bjuro-1440
Rassvet-2 satellite during assembly. Credits: Bjuro-1440

The tests passed represent the first successful experience of laser inter-satellite communications with domestically produced equipment.


A civilian load during a military launch

On the night of May 17, 2024, from the Plesetsk military cosmodrome, a Soyuz 2.1b placed a series of payloads into orbit. In addition to a classified satellite, Kosmos 2576, on board the launcher were six satellites from the private company Sitroniks Space: two Zorky 2M earth observation satellites and four SITRO-AIS civil maritime navigation satellites.

Three days after launch, Bjuro-1440 issued a press release stating that three spacecraft from the second experimental Rassvet (i.e. dawn) mission were also present in the May 17 launch from Plesetsk.

The Soyuz 2.1b launch from Plesetsk on May, 17 2024. Credit: Russian Ministry of defence
The Soyuz 2.1b launch from Plesetsk on May, 17 2024. Credits: Russian Ministry of defence

The spacecraft is equipped with satellite communication equipment using the 5G NTN protocol and inter-satellite laser communication terminals.

All three mission satellites were successfully launched into the target polar orbit, established normal communications, and were taken under control,” the press release reads.


The Bjuro-1440 challenges

We had already been interested in the Russian startup on the occasion of the launch of the first Rassvet-1 satellite on June 27, 2023.

The name of this startup evokes the first satellite in history, Sputnik-1.

Rassvet-2 satellite in orbit. Credit: Bjuro-1440
Rassvet-2 satellite in orbit. Credits: Bjuro-1440

The number 1440 recalls the 1440 orbits that Sputnik-1 made before re-entering the atmosphere on 4 January 1958 and the word Bjuro which in Russian means office evokes what at the time were called OKB. This acronym stands for Opytnoe konstruktorskoe bjuro, Experimental Design Office.

In 2023, Buro 1440 promised the launch of 900 high-speed internet by 2035. The goal is to start the full operation of the system in 2027 to provide internet access everywhere in Russia and as many as 75 foreign countries.

How Rassvet-2 network works. Credit: Bjuro-1440
How Rassvet-2 network works. Credits: Bjuro-1440

However, it is difficult to start a logistics chain, from the assembly of satellites in large numbers to their launch, with the means currently available. The S1 civil launch pad at the Vostochnj Cosmodrome can support between 10 and 12 Soyuz launches to be shared with all operators. Using a similar military structure in Plesetsk also makes the objective, which remains extremely ambitious, a little more within reach.


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Roberto Paradiso

Roberto Paradiso

Banker with a passion for cosmonautics, he tells in his blog, "Le storie di Kosmonautika" and in the book "Noi abbiamo usato le matite!" the history and stories of the Soviet and Russian space program and the people who made it.

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