Laser Beam for External Position Control and Traffic Management of On-Orbit Satellites

Case ID:

This invention is a satellite control system. The system consists of a customized “smart skin” containing solar panels, power and control circuitry, and an embedded secondary propulsion system. A laser is used from a ground station or another spacecraft and is beamed towards the satellite. The satellite has onboard photovoltaics that act as a wake-up laser receiver. This approach enables a laser ground station or a spacecraft to broadcast commands to the spacecraft in times of emergency that would trigger operation of the secondary propulsion system to perform impulse maneuvers, altitude control maneuvers, and corrections.


This technology offers several benefits over existing techniques, such as low initial investment, low power usage, high bandwidth, and high security. The “over-congestion” of key satellite orbits greatly decreases their utility, as collisions become far more likely. Adding an actuated reflector to the spacecraft will enable laser ranging and two-way communication between ground station and the spacecraft, in a secure manner not currently available to RF communication systems. There is a need to develop secondary and backup systems to effectively move these satellites and perform traffic management of derelict satellites so that collision risks are minimized or eliminated.



  • On-orbit satellites
  • Optical communication technology
  • Small electronic devices
  • Government & military
  • Commercial & private entities


  • Low cost
  • Long-distance
  • Increased data
  • High bandwidth
  • Secure transmission

Status: issued U.S. patent #11,368,212

Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Tariq Ahmed
Sr Licensing Manager, College of Engineering
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Himangshu Kalita
Leonard Vance
Jekan Thangavelautham
Vishnu Reddy Kanuouru