Small Optical Link (SOL) Project

Multiple plans are starting to emerge in order to utilize satellites to create full-fledged internet networks. There are rising expectations on services that would allow regions of the world that do not yet have internet connections to have access to the Net, and also on the real-time connection between satellites and the ground.

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.

The long-distance optical communications technology 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.

SOL Project concept

Small Optical Link for the International Space Station (SOLISS)

The Small Optical Link for the International Space Station (SOLISS) is a joint project based on fundamental research conducted by Sony and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It is a small-satellite optical link system developed jointly by Sony CSL and the JAXA Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center in order to conduct in-orbit demonstrations of the long-distance laser communication system.

On September 25, 2019, SOLISS was carried aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV8) "KOUNOTORI-8", the cargo transporter to the International Space Station (ISS). The system has been attached to the IVA-replaceable Small Exposed Experiment Platform (i-SEEP) hardware adapter installed on the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) "Kibo". The in-orbit optical communication experiments are underway.

SOLISS system flight model
 SOLISS system flight model overview

Image of the Earth taken from the monitor camera on SOLISS (sent to the ground via ISS)

[Related Link]
JAXA Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center (360˚ Spherical Still and Video Images)

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