Optical Communications Systems

Course length:

3 Days


$2,090.00 excl.

Course dates

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The three-day course provides a strong foundation for selecting, designing and building either a Free Space Optical Comms, or Fiber-Optic Comms System for various applications. Course includes both DoD and Commercial systems, in Space, Atmospheric, Underground, and Underwater Applications. Optical Comms Systems have advantages over RF and Microwave Comms Systems due to their directionality, and high frequency carrier. These properties can lead to greater covertness, freedom from jamming, and potentially much higher data rates. Novel architectures are feasible allowing usage in situations where RF emission or transmission would be precluded.

What You Will Learn:

  • What are the Emerging Laser Communications Challenges for Mobile, Airborne and Space-Based Missions?
  • Future Opportunities in LaserCom Applications (ground-to-ground, satellite-to-satellite, ground-to-satellite and much more!)
  • Overcoming Challenges in LaserCom Development (bandwidth expansion, real-time global connectivity, survivability & more)
  • Measuring the Key Performance Tradeoffs (cost vs. size/weight vs. availability vs. power vs. range)
  • Tools and Techniques for Meeting the Requirements of Data Rate, Availability, Covertness & Jamming


From this course you will obtain the knowledge and ability to perform basic Comm systems engineering calculations, identify tradeoffs, interact meaningfully with colleagues, evaluate systems, and understand the literature.

Course Outline:

  1. UNDERSTANDING LASER COMMUNICATIONS What are the Benefits of Laser Communications? How Do Laser Communications Compare with RF and Microwave Systems? Implementation Options. Future Role of Laser Communications in Commercial, Military and Scientific Markets.
  2. LASER COMMUNICATIONS: LATEST CAPABILITIES & REQUIREMENTS A Complete Guide to Laser Communications Capabilities for Mobile, Airborne and Space-Based Missions. What Critical System Functions are Required for Laser Communications? What are the Capability Requirements for Spacecraft-Based Laser Communications Terminals? Tools and Techniques for Meeting the Requirements of -Data Rate, Availability, Covertness, Jamming Ground Terminal Requirements- Viable Receiver Sites, Uplink Beacon and Command, Safety
  3. LASER COMMUNICATION SYSTEM PROTOTYPES & PROGRAMS USAF/Boeing Gapfiller Wideband Laser Comm System—The Future Central Node in Military Architectures DARPA’s TeraHertz Operational Reachback (THOR)—Meeting Data Requirements for Mobile Environments Elliptica Transceiver—The Future Battlefield Commlink? Laser Communication Test and Evaluation Station (LTES), DARPA’s Multi-Access Laser Communication Head (MALCH): Providing Simultaneous Lasercom to Multiple Airborne Users
  4. OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN LASER COMMUNICATIONS DEVELOPMENT Link Drivers— Weather, Mobile or Stationary systems, Design Drivers— Cost, Link Availability, Bit Rates, Bit Error Rates, Mil Specs Design Approaches— Design to Spec, Design to Cost, System Architecture and Point to Point Where are the Opportunities in Laser Communications Architectures Development? Coping with the Lack of Bandwidth, What are the Solutions in Achieving Real-Time Global Connectivity? Beam Transmission: Making it Work – Free-Space Optics- Overcoming Key Atmospheric Effects Scintillation, Turbulence, Cloud Statistics, Background Light and Sky Brightness, Transmission, Seeing Availability, Underwater Optics, Guided Wave Optics
  5. EXPERT INSIGHTS ON MEASURING LASER COMMUNICATIONS PERFORMANCE Tools and Techniques for Establishing Requirements and Estimating Performance Key Performance Trade-offs for Laser Communications Systems -Examining the Tradeoffs of Cost vs. Availability, Bit Rate, and Bit Error Rate; of Size/Weight vs. Cost, Availability, BR/BER, Mobility; of Power vs. Range, BR/BER, Availability; Mass, Power, Volume and Cost Estimation; Reliability and Quality Assurance, Environmental Tests, Component Specifics (Lasers, Detectors, Optics.)
  6. UNDERSTANDING THE KEY COMPONENTS AND SUB-SYSTEMS Current Challenges and Future Capabilities in Laser Transmitters Why Modulation and Coding is Key for Successful System Performance Frequency/Wavelength Control for Signal-to-Noise Improvements Meeting the Requirements for Optical Channel Capacity The Real Impact of the Transmitter Telescope on System Performance Transcription Methods for Sending the Data- Meeting the Requirements for Bit Rates and Bit Error Rates Which Receivers are Most Useful for Detecting Optical Signals, Pointing and Tracking for Link Closure and Reduction of Drop-Outs – Which Technologies Can Be Used for Link Closure,How Can You Keep Your Bit Error Rates Low
  7. FUTURE APPLICATIONS OF LASER COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS Understanding the Flight Systems – Host Platform Vibration Characteristics, Fine-Pointing Mechanism, Coarse Pointing Mechanism, Isolation Mechanisms, Inertial Sensor Feedback, Eye Safety Ground to Ground – Decisions required include covertness requirements, day/night, – Fixed –Mobile Line-of-Sight, Non-Line-of-Sight – Allows significant freedom of motion Ground to A/C, A/C to Ground, A/C to A/C, Ground to Satellite. Low Earth Orbit, Point Ahead Requirements, Medium Earth Orbit, Geo-Stationary Earth Orbit, Long Range as Above, Satellite to Ground as Above, Sat to Sat “Real Free Space Comms”, Under-Water Fixed to Mobile, Under-Water Mobile to Fixed



Dr. James Pierre Hauck is a consultant to industry and government labs. He is an expert in optical communications systems having pioneered a variety of such systems including Sat-to-Underwater, Non-line-of-Sight, and Single-Ended Systems.


Dr. Hauck’s work with lasers and optics began about 40 years ago when he studied Quantum Electronics at the University of CA Irvine. After completing the Ph.D. in Physics, he went to work for Rockwell’s Electronics Research Center, working on Laser Radar (LADAR) which has much in common with Optical Comms Systems.


Jim Hauck’s work on Optical Comms Systems began in earnest about 30 years ago when he was Chief Scientist of the Strategic Laser Communications System Laser Transmitter Module (SLC/LTM), at Northrop Grumman. He invented, designed and developed a novel Non-Line-Of-Sight Optical Comms System when he was Chief Scientist of the General Dynamics Laser Systems Laboratory. This portable system allowed comm in a U shaped channel “up-over-and-down” a large building. At SAIC he analyzed, designed, developed and tested a single ended Optical Comms System.