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Polatis, Ultra Communications Chosen by US Air Force Program for Switch Technology in Satellites

Satellite Technology

Satellite Technology Feature Article

November 11, 2010

Polatis, Ultra Communications Chosen by US Air Force Program for Switch Technology in Satellites

By Calvin Azuri, TMCnet Contributor


Polatis, a performance leader in all-optical switching, partnering with Ultra Communications Inc., has been selected by the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) for a Phase 2 Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) project, which is to be used to adapt the Polatis (News - Alert) DirectLight switch technology for use in satellites. Polatis has joined forces with Ultra Communications to test and adapt Polatis' DirectLight optical switch technology for space-based applications.


In a press release, Program Manager of AFRL's Space Vehicles Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, Keith Avery,  said, “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.”

An off-the-shelf version of a Polatis switch is expected 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. Very shortly, Polatis switches will be in orbit as well. Currently, more than 850 Polatis all-optical switching products are deployed worldwide.

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 (News - Alert), 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.”

Polatis currently delivers the world's lowest loss optical switching products for telecommunications and data center, government and defense, test and measurement and video broadcast markets. By using a unique combination of proven technologies and new, innovative architectures, Polatis has achieved class-leading performance and reliability that solve some of today's toughest optical networking challenges.


Calvin Azuri is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Calvin’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jaclyn Allard

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