Air Force Association’s virtual Air-Space-Cyber Conference (vASC 2020)

USAF Colonel Eric Felt, Director of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate, told reporters on Wednesday that the Directorate is “super interested” in utilizing lasers in space as a foundational element of the Air Force’s “space combat cloud.” Said Colonel Felt:

“I am interested in laser communications. Laser communications, or optical communications, are super useful as part of a concept we call the space combat cloud, which is where you will be able to robustly communicate. It is a mesh network that extends into space, just like we have on the terrestrial network. We are interested in having that kind of capability in space, where if one link goes down, no problem, you just route around it to the other links that are available. The foundation of the space combat cloud is optical communication and the reason for that is that it is very hard to intercept, to jam, to deny, and to detect. It has all of those good capabilities. So we really view laser communications as foundational to our future space architectures. And even for communication between space and the air layer or between space and the ground layer, it is super attractive…. Although it also has its downsides, such as its limited ability to go through clouds, etc. So, as part of the overall architecture, laser communication is super interesting.”