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Ultra Communications Partners with Polatis on U.S. Air Force Program to Develop Space-Qualified Optical Switching



10November 2011


Polatis,announced that Ultra Communications Inc. has been selected by the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) for a Phase 2 Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) project to be used to adapt the Polatis DirectLight® switch technology for use in satellites. Polatis has partnered with Ultra Communications to test and adapt Polatis’ DirectLight optical switch technology for space-based applications. 


"A space qualified all-optical switch is a key component of our next generation satellite communications architecture and is required to enable the transmission of ever increasing data rates while realizing size, weight and power reductions in future satellites,” said Program Manager Keith Avery, AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.


Dr. Charles Kuznia, president of Ultra Communications, said “During the Phase 1 SBIR, we conducted a thorough survey of the optical switch market place and chose the Polatis DirectLight technology as a viable optical switch technology for space qualification due to its demonstrated outstanding performance, reliability and robustness in adverse conditions. We are excited to be partnering with Polatis on this project.”


Polatis CTO, Nick Parsons, said, “High density form factor, outstanding optical performance, long term reliability, and robust performance in adverse environments make the Polatis DirectLight switch technology ideal for meeting the rigorous requirements for launch and long term operation in space.”


An off-the-shelf version of a Polatis switch is scheduled to be launched into orbit on the Space Shuttle in fall of 2010 and will spend a year onboard the International Space Station before returning to Earth for analysis. Polatis switches have already delivered reliable agile optical communications solutions for commercial and government applications worldwide. Soon, Polatis switches will be in orbit as well.