An impatient industry waits for SDA verdict on satellite lasers; Kepler takes the plunge

by Peter B. de Selding

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Any company designing a data-relay or broadband satellite constellation would prefer to hold off selecting its laser communications terminal (LCT) supplier until the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA) has performed in-orbit validation of at least two, if not all four, of the LCT providers it’s working with.

“We know the technology works and we know the engineering, but that’s on GEO satellites at a cost of 10s of millions for the [LCT] nodes — not sufficient for a commercial, proliferated product,” said Rizwan Parvez, senior director of business development at

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