The high volume of satellites required by mega-constellations to provide a global coverage and at the same time the small physical size of each satellite, impose stringent requirements on the cost, size, weight & power consumption (C-SWAP) of the “lasercom modems”; the systems that deliver the transmission and reception of the laser communication beams within the satellite optical network. Using conventional fiber optic technology will not “do the trick”. The current lasercom terminals are built with discrete transceiver & amplifier components and as such systems are bulk, complex and expensive. To meet the challenge, satellite equipment vendors are ready to embrace a technology switch that will hit the right C-SWAP targets; such technology should leverage the great strength of photonic integration. This is the merge of elements and functionalities on chip-scale circuits that can be fabricated within semiconductor foundries just as electronic ICs are fabricated today for any high-volume consumer-based application.

LASErCOM on-chip


Monolithically integrated transceiver circuit


Chip-scale high-power semiconductor optical amplifier


Compact low-noise optical fiber amplifier


ORIONAS is a H2020-SPACE research & innovation action that aims to disrupt both the shape of lasercom modems as well as the way they are built and tested making a drastic impact on the system C-SWAP. ORIONAS invests in monolithic integration within European BiCMOS & InP foundries and leverages cost-effective access to such high performance technologies to squeeze the optical transceiver & high-power amplifier elements of the lasercom modems into integrated circuit areas of a few mm2. In addition,ORIONAS exploits hi-rel fiber optic components & module assembly processes that are used to develop modern small form factor fiber modules to deliver an optical fiber pre-amplifier with credit-card footprint. Following IC fabrication and device/module assembly & packaging, ORIONAS will demonstrate direct & coherent detection optical links that will be 20 times faster than the current state-of-the-art flight-grade equipment. 


LEO co-ordinates the project.

LEO delivers the following tasks:

-coherent receiver integrated optics design – optical circuit design of the low-noise optical fiber pre-amplifier -free space optics links physical layer modeling & simulations.


Thales Alenia Space is the end-user.

TAS participates with two groups in Toulouse & Zurich  & delivers the following tasks: -definition of satellite optical link requirements -definition of lasercom modem specifications -system level evaluation -business planning & roadmapping.


IHP acts as the Semiconductor foundry providing access to its SiGe BiCMOS technology. 

IHP delivers the following tasks:

-transceiver integrated circuit design –IC manufacturing through MPW –IC characterization – electronics board design.


G&H acts as a hi-rel module assembly house.

G&H delivers the following tasks:

-mechanical & electronic design of the low noise optical fiber amplifier (LNOA) -mechanical design of the high-power optical amplifier module (HPOA) -LNOA & HPOA assembly, integration & test.


III-V LAB acts as the photonic Indium Phosphide foundry providing access to its InP-PIC technology.

III-V LAB delivers the following tasks:

-design of the high-power semiconductor optical amplifier (HP-SOA) structure -epitaxy & manufacturing of HP-SOA circuits -HP-SOA circuit characterization -supply of DFB laser diodes.


LUSOSPACE acts as a sub-system integrator.

LUSOSPACE delivers the following tasks:

-electronics design & assembly of laser driver electronics for the transmitter laser & HP-SOA modules -electronics design & assembly of the control board for the transceiver modules -sub-system assembly of the transceiver modules with high-performance FPGA.


CNIT acts a PIC assembly house. 

CNIT delivers the following tasks:

-design of the transmitter optical sub-assembly -assembly of the modulator photonic integrated circuit with the transmitter laser diode -integration of the transmitter optical sub-assembly.


ALTER-UK (formely Optocap) acts as a photonic module packaging provider.

ALTER-UK delivers the following tasks:

-design of the HP-SOA module -design of transceiver modules -assembly, integration & packaging of HP-SOA & optical trasnceiver modules.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 822002

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