Small Optical Link (SOL) Project

There are rising expectations for real-time satellite-to-ground links through inter-satellite communications, even in areas of the earth where the internet environment is not yet ready. Our daily lives would change dramatically as well, if small satellites could provide the same high-bandwidth communications as conventional large satellites.

The Small Optical Link Project (SOL Project) at Sony CSL is conducting R&D into an optical communications system that would be installed on small satellites to transmit large volumes of data over long distances. This system utilizes the optical disk technology that Sony has employed in household devices such as CD players. The goal of the project is to establish a real-time, mass-data communication system for future inter-satellite communications and communications with ground stations with this fine-pointing control technology.

In 2019, we confirmed that bidirectional communication between space (low earth orbit) and the ground can be achieved with our optical communication device called "SOLISS” on board the International Space Station. This joint research project with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) did not only confirm that the optical disc technology can be applied to space optical communications, but also that devices with existing technologies have the potential to increase possibilities of mass-producingoptical devices for space in the future.

The long-distance optical communications technology based on our research and development will help to create a society where all people have access to real-time information, and it could spur even great changes to our world in the future, allowing us to live in new places or carry out new activities in space.

Members of the SOL project team are continuing to study this technology, including quantum cryptographic communications, based on the technology developed for SOLISS, .

In 2022, a new company, Sony Space Communications Corporation (SSC), was established to carry out business on space optical communications.
SSC plans to develop small optical communications devices to provide services to connect micro satellites in LEO via a laser beam.
Also, SSC aims to promote the use of optical communications in space and to contribute to the improvement of convenience in peoples’ lives, including through the expansion of socioeconomic activities. You can read more about SSC in their website.

SOL Project concept