Alter UK won the contract from the European Space Agency for an optical transceiver for the ScyLight (SeCure and Laser communication Technology) element of the Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme. ScyLight is part of ESA’s Optical and Quantum Communications initiative to enable ultra-fast and secure data exchange.


The title of the project is “56 Gb/s per channel Optical Transceiver Module for Telecommunication Satellite Digital Payloads”. Within this project, Alter will develop a total of three transceiver products: a 4-channel 56 Gb/s optical transceiver, a 12-channel 28 Gb/s optical transmitter and a 12-channel 28 Gb/s optical receiver, all designed for Very High Throughput Telecom Satellite (VHTS) intra-satellite communication. Key customers for the development are Airbus UK and Thales Alenia Space, both of whom have provided specifications and letters of support for the project.


The total value of the contract is around €814K with €437K being awarded to Alter at a 50% funding level. The project began in March and will last for three years. Our partners are the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics who will manufacture the core optical subassembly, and the Compound Semiconductor Catapult, who will perform verification testing on the completed devices.


This project represents a significant step forward for Alter UK as it will allow us to build on the success of the SiphoDias project to broaden our product portfolio and establish Alter as a serious presence in the space-based optical transceiver market. By the time the project completes we expect to have developed an optical transceiver platform offering customers best-in-class performance for data rate and power consumption. These devices are the key enabling technology to meet operator demands for increased capacity and flexibility in satellite communications.