Kuiper Satellites Link to DoD’s Space Mesh Network
The DoD is in discussion with Amazon to allow them to install laser communications terminals on some of the company’s Project Kuiper satellites. This will allow the satellites to transfer data from remote-sensing satellites to the military’s low-orbit mesh network on earth.
Speaking on the MiSat Symposium in Mountain View, California, Derek Tournerar, the director of the US Space Development Agency, said that the US Space Force needs commercial satellites, such as Amazon’s Kuiper, to serve as translators and transmit data from commercial imaging satellites to military analysts on the ground. He added that such an agreement was necessary for the data to be transmitted quickly and safely.
The Space Development Agency (SDA) has been working on a Data Mesh Network called Transport Layer to connect hundreds of low Earth orbit satellites and transmit time-sensitive data to military bases around the world. They have instructed vendors to use SDA compliant optimal terminals on the satellites so they can be interconnected. As part of this Mesh, commercial remote-sensing companies will also send imagery to this Transport Layer directly. If an image provider does not have an SDA compatible optical link, that is where Amazon will come in as a commercial data-relay partner. Tournear said:
Amazon Kuiper will have their own optical terminals that they’re planning on using for their mesh network,” Tournear said. “But they’re going to put some SDA-compatible optical terminals on some of their satellites so that those satellites act as translators. That way we can move data on and off the Kuiper network onto the Transport Layer.
The Kuiper Project will comprise 3236 satellites in Earth’s low orbit that will provide high-speed internet access globally. The first two satellites will be launched by 2023.