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  • Global Military Communications

Chess Dynamics enters the space market

Chess Dynamics, the leading British surveillance, tracking and gunfire control specialist today announced it has won a contract in partnership with QinetiQ for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). The contract will see Chess Dynamics playing a key role in working with QinetiQ on the design and build of a relocatable Optical Ground Station (OGS) in support of Dstl’s space-based Titania Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC) research project. The OGS will be used to acquire and track the Titania satellite and close an optical communications link.

The OGS Terminal will house an optical exchange telescope provided by QinetiQ, and Chess’ precision tracking equipment will be essential to acquire the satellite and maintain the accurate tracking essential for data exchange between the OGS and the satellite.

Graham Beall, Chess Group CEO commented: ‘This contract signifies a new strategic direction for our business. It is a natural progression from our tracking capabilities utilised in military operations, and the Low Earth Orbit satellite will also be one of the furthest man-made targets tracked by our equipment. It is great to realise what can be achieved when working in close partnership with QinetiQ.’

Contract Win Achieved due to Synergy with QinetiQ

The Dstl contract bid was won due to the natural synergy between QinetiQ and Chess Dynamics, with the partnership offering the perfect balance between QinetiQ’s cutting-edge space communications technology and Chess’ expertise in the design and engineering of high-performance tracking systems.

Brian Perret, Integrated Delivery Team Leader at QinetiQ comments, ‘We are a key partner for our clients in air and space and continue to expand our world-class capabilities in free space optical communications for defence. As we build, launch, and operate complex space infrastructures it is imperative that we work closely with partners of our own who can provide the very best in hardware and engineering expertise. By working with Chess for this contract, we are able to deliver an Optical Ground Station to meet DSTL’s demanding operational objectives.’

Precision Tracking for Low Earth Orbit Data Exchange

The OGS will support Dstl’s Space Programme by providing a solid platform on which to undertake research and experimentation into free-space optical communications (FSOC) from space.

The OGS will directly support the “Titania” Capability Demonstrator that aims to develop the science and demonstrate the military utility of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Direct-to-Earth (DTE) free-space optical communications.

The Titania project directly supports the concept of Information Advantage (IA) by providing new communications bearers, which increase the rate at which Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) data can be transferred from space. This enables faster decision making, whilst also increasing the resilience of ISR and Satellite Communication (SATCOM) systems by protecting data in Radio Frequency (RF) contested and congested environments. This leading-edge science will inform choices for future LEO programmes, and will be investigated as a communications technology for interconnected orbits and for the Skynet 6 programme

With only a three-minute transit period per cycle for the QinetiQ optical telescope and LEO satellite to exchange data, Dstl required exceptional precision tracking equipment – and Chess will support QinetiQ by delivering this.

Chess will be utilising one of its high accuracy, zero backlash yoke positioners and advanced tracking algorithms to deliver precise closed loop tracking of the satellite transit. The positioner is a high-performance servo-controlled platform that Chess developed for a range of heavier payloads and which has been proven in service under a wide range of operating scenarios for many UK and international customers.

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