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Electro-optical Equipment

Electrooptics is a key technology in a variety of space instruments, covering different aspects of earth observation as well as exploration of our solar system and the universe. Data provided by the earth observers has become an irreplaceable service to the earth population through improved weather forecasting, the capability to show the spread of pollution etc.

Kongsberg has been working in the field of space electro-optics for more than 15 years, and delivered flight hardware for the MIPAS-, IASI- and GAIA instrument. In addition, KONGSBERG has worked on several technology maturation- and study projects.


Within the field of space electrooptics, Kongsberg has focused on wavelength stabilized lasers and optical receivers for laser metrology systems.

Within the field of space electrooptics, Kongsberg has focused on wavelength stabilized lasers and optical receivers for laser metrology systems.

Within the field of space electrooptics, Kongsberg has focused on wavelength stabilized lasers and optical receivers for laser metrology systems.


The Kongsberg equipment delivered for the MIPAS instrument, laser unit and optical receiver, worked flawlessly onboard the ENVISAT satellite during its 10 years in orbit, twice its design lifetime. MIPAS was a Fourier Transform Interferometer for the measurement of geophysical parameters in the middle atmosphere (stratospheric chemistry, climatology and ozone layer). The laser metrology system, delivered by Kongsberg, was essential for the highly accurate data provided by the interferometer. 


With the background from the deliveries to MIPAS, Kongsberg won the contract for development and

 manufacturing of the RAU (Receiver Assembly Unit) for the laser metrology system on the IASI instrument. Kongsberg delivered 3 RAU’s for IASI, one for each of the three METOP satellites. METOP-A and –B was launched in 2006 and 2010 respectively, while METOP-C is scheduled for launch in 2016.

The IASI instrument performs high accuracy measurements for weather forecasting for EUMETSAT.


The GAIA spacecraft was launch in December 2013 heading for its observation site at L2. Onboard is the OSE (Optical Sources and Electronics) unit, developed by KDA and part of the laser metrology system, monitoring the line of sight of the two telescopes capturing the faint light from the distant stars. The OSE comprises a wavelength stabilized laser, exhibiting a relative wavelength stability better than 8× 10-8 for any 5 seconds period.


In August 2013, Kongsberg started developing the laser metrology receiver for the IRS instrument, which will fly on the MTG-S satellites. This receiver represents a new generation, significantly more complex and accurate than our previous receivers manufactured more than 10 years ago.

The IRS (Infrared Sounder) instrument will, from its geo-stationary position, measure water vapour and temperature structures in the atmosphere.

Yet another laser unit is under development at Kongsberg. Basis is found in the two previous laser designs, but this unit will outperform the two older ones. So far, a proof-of-concept demonstrator has revealed signs of a successful design.

Kongsberg’s ambitions are to further develop their competence within space electrooptics to meet the increasing challenges in coming space projects.


Pyro techniques are used for separation mechanisms, valves, ignition and other functions onboard launchers and satellites. Today the most common systems are based on electro-pyro and pyro-lines (primary explosives). These systems are demanding to integrate and test and to reduce cost other pyro technologies are developed and investigated.

Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace is developing next generation pyro system technology called optopyro. The system is based on optical technology where laser pulses, generated by high power semiconductor lasers are distributed via optical fibers to initiation of pyro functions.

An optopyro system is composed of four major elements: the Laser Firing Unit (LFU), the Optical Safety Barrier (OSB), the Optical Harness (OH), and an Optical Detonator (DOP). The LFU is an electronics box containing the interface to the launcher avionics system, the laser control electronics and an electrical safety barrier. The OSB guarantee no light is going from the LFU to the rest of the system when in Arm position. The OH is the fibers with connectors, splitters etc. that transfer and distribute laser pulses to the pyro functions. The DOP is used to trigger pyro functions when receiving the laser firing pulse.

An optical pyrotechnic system will remove the primary explosives from a launcher and thereby increase efficiency and reduce cost of the integration process. Other benefits of the technology are reduced procurement cost, reduced mass, and reduction of lead pollution made possible by replacing traditional electrical cables and lead encapsulated pyro lines with optical fibers.

KDA has been working on optopyro technics since 2001; in various projects and studies with ESA (European Space Agency), CNES (Centre National d’études Spatiales), NSC (Norwegian Space Center) and Astrium SAS.


Customer: - European Union (ACTS)

Partners: - Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (Norway) - Alcatel (Thomson CSF Laser Diodes) (France) - University of Aveiro (Portugal) - Matra Marconi Space (France) - SINTEF Photonics (Norway) - IPG Laser GmbH (Germany) - Thomson CSF LCR (France)

Main issues: - Project Management - Design and manufacturing of 2.5Gbit/s optical transceiver Total mass = 2.1 kg Max Pconsum = 40W Output Wavelength = 1544.5 nm Average Output Power = 3.5 dBm @2.5Gbit/s Transmitter output: Optical RZ-format Receiver output: Electrical NRZ-format