Many space-based laser communication demonstrations have been conducted to verify sophisticated laser communication equipment in the orbit. The technology readiness level (TRL) for space-based laser communications has entered level seven and the time has come when space-based laser communications can be used in an operational environment. In this paper, the trends of fiber-based and space-based laser communication systems are presented and compared with respect to the data rates and the sensitivities for optical communication systems. The applicability to micro-satellites is also described in this paper.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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