Nanosatellite Based Low Cost Laser Communications Network for Low Earth Orbit

Case ID:

These inventions are components of a satellite based communication system using nanosatellites called CubeSats. These cube-shaped satellites developed by NASA are approximately four inches with a volume of about a quart and weighing three pounds. The integrated system uses clusters of tethered CubeSats and commercial components that communicate through secure transfers with one another and a ground-based terminal. The tethering allows movement among the satellites for independent pointing while maintaining the cluster. Deployment of multiple clusters enables global communication coverage with high bandwidth intra-cluster transfers. Use of commercial technology reduces cost and complexity.



There are more than 2,000 satellites in orbit around the Earth. Sending far-reaching signals around the Earth’s curvature requires a relay system of transmitters and receivers to “bend” linear pointing of directed signals. Therefore, smaller satellites capable of creating secure global-scale communication networks will be beneficial. Within the next ten years, governments like the United States and China as well as private companies like SpaceX are likely to launch thousands of micro and nanosatellites to orbit the earth providing communication links and data transfers. Future satellites will focus on ocean data and Earth's atmosphere as well as play a crucial role in the future of technology such as the move to autonomous vehicles. The market for such technology continues to grow as governments view satellites as a way to increase their superiority within the global sphere.



  • Global communication for earth-orbiting satellites to provide data for technologies using position data
    • Communication technology may be applicable in other areas of long distance communication among devices
  • Tethering dynamics have applications outside satellite communications


  • Complete system envisioned with commercial components for lower cost
  • CubeSat use expanding and more entities are interested in global satellite communication networks
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Tariq Ahmed
Sr Licensing Manager, College of Engineering
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Leonard Vance
Jekan Thangavelautham