DOI: 10.3390/aerospace11010005 ISSN: 2226-4310

A Review of Mechanical Fine-Pointing Actuators for Free-Space Optical Communication

Martynas Milaševičius, Laurynas Mačiulis
  • Aerospace Engineering

This paper presents a state-of-the-art overview of fine beam steering mechanisms for free-space optical communication on satellites. Precise beam pointing is a critical task for the successful operation of free-space optical communication systems. Based on past research and ongoing projects, the use of fast steering mirrors (FSMs) is still the most popular solution for free-space optical communication applications. Although a variety of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) FSM solutions exist, there is limited publicly available data on these solutions in the space environment. Three main actuation principles are considered (electro-static force actuated, magnetic force actuated, piezo-effect actuated) and reviewed using available data from past space missions. The article describes the most important criteria in the choice of a fine beam steering solution for free-space optical communication in space.

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