If any current U.S. space program deserves the name "Transformational," its the Department of Defenses ambitious Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT) program. The aim of the program is to provide real-time, high bandwidth connections between military assets ships, planes, drones, units, even individual ground vehicles anywhere in the world, providing a critical component of network-centric warfare.Unfortunately, "transformational" is a synonym for another word: risky. Estimates currently project that the program, when and if completed, will cost as much as $18 billion highlighting the program for close scrutiny from Congress.But for this week, team TSAT can celebrate a success. In a test conducted in conjunction with MIT, Boeing & Ball Aerospace demonstrated the inter-satellite laser link (Boeing) and pointing system (Ball Aerospace). This laser link will ultimately provide the 40 gigabits per second backbone that connects the planned 5 satellites together, which are slated to be launched in 2013.For more information, check out Defense Industry Dailys Special Report on TSAT.-- Ryan Caron, CDI
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