By Joey Roulette
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sony on Thursday said it formed a new company that will build and supply devices that allow small satellites in orbit to communicate with one another via laser beams, dipping into the fast-growing space sector.
Sony Space Communications Corp, registered on Wednesday, is meant to take advantage of laser technology to avoid a bottleneck of radio frequencies. The devices will work between satellites in space and satellites communicating with ground stations.
The company did not say when it expects to have its first commercial device operating in space, whether it has existing customers lined up or how much money it has invested into the technology to date.
There are roughly 12,000 satellites in orbit, a number that is projected to increase rapidly in the coming years as rocket companies slash the cost of launching things to space, and as firms like Amazon and SpaceX build vast networks of low-earth satellites to carry internet communications to all the globe.
“The amount of data used in orbit is also increasing year by year, but the amount of available radio waves is limited,” the new company’s president, Kyohei Iwamoto, said in a statement.
SpaceX makes its own laser communications devices in-house and first launched them on its Starlink satellites late last year.
Sony said one of its first successful tests occurred in 2020 when it transmitted high-definition image data by laser from the International Space Station to a ground station in Japan.
(Reporting by Joey Roulette; editing by Peter Henderson and Sandra Maler)