Astrolight Joins NATO DIANA to Accelerate Innovation in Defense Technology, Will Facilitate Communication Between Ships


Astrolight’s entry into the Defense Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) represents a significant advancement in its mission to deploy its dual-use laser communication technology for defense applications. The company has already been utilizing DIANA’s resources and expertise to support such NATO initiatives as revolutionizing ship-to-ship laser communications.

Astrolight, a pioneering technology company dedicated to facilitating space-to-Earth and ship-to-ship laser communications, has joined the Defense Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA), which will advance its dual-use laser communication technology in the defense sector.

The focus will be on facilitating tactical communication between navy ships. The company plans to develop a product for optical communication between ships so that they can communicate without using conventional radio systems.

Today, Astrolight is already conducting a project with the Lithuanian Naval Flotilla. Justinas Žukauskas, Lieutenant Commander of the Lithuanian Navy, highlighted that the Navy initiated the proposal to develop this technology in response to the evolving demands of the operational environment in the Baltic Sea. It aims to establish alternative communication systems tailored to the unique requirements of Lithuania’s naval vessels.

“The upcoming prototype signifies a pivotal addition to our technology, introducing alternative communication methods through laser technology while simultaneously addressing the crucial imperative of reducing electromagnetic signatures for heightened operational stealth. Moreover, this technology holds potential for adaptation in the land domain as well,” added LCDR Žukauskas.

Astrolight specializes in free space optical communication, a secure and high-bandwidth communications technology that enables two distant objects to communicate using laser beams. Leveraging the optical spectrum’s significantly higher frequency, Astrolight’s space-to-ground laser communication terminals ATLAS offer enhanced security and speed compared to traditional radio frequency systems.

As part of the partnership with DIANA, Astrolight will collaborate with NATO and other defense stakeholders to adapt its laser communication terminals for terrestrial applications. This collaboration will enable Astrolight to utilize its dual-use technology further, expand its product portfolio, and tap into new markets within the defense industry.

DIANA provides startups like Astrolight with access to a network of experts, resources, and funding opportunities to help them develop and commercialize innovative technologies for defense applications.

“As a commercial company specializing in the development of dual-use telecommunications technology, our partnership with NATO DIANA is pivotal in transitioning our expertise into the defense sector,” said Laurynas Mačiulis, Astrolight co-founder and CEO. “The participation in DIANA’s program involves guiding us through defence-specific requirements and facilitating our understanding of the nuances associated with this market. It also encompasses adapting our space-developed product for terrestrial applications, with a primary focus on enabling laser communication between navy ships.”

Further, DIANA is a prestigious accelerator program focused on advancing innovation in defense technology and strategies within NATO. Leveraging its acceleration program and test center network, DIANA supports startups that can address NATO’s specific challenges, including energy resilience, undersea sensing and surveillance, and secure information sharing.

“We’re delighted to have Astrolight as part of DIANA’s first cohort of innovators,” said Dr. Tien Pham, DIANA’s Chief Scientist. “Laurynas and his colleagues are working on exciting prospects to improve secure communications on the ground and in space. As part of DIANA’s program, Astrolight receives training, funding, commercial advice, and much more to grow its technology. We’re looking forward to seeing what the team achieves in the months and years ahead.”

Looking ahead, Astrolight will continue to develop its space-to-Earth optical connectivity solutions as Mačiulis reiterates that there is still a lack of bandwidth for making data collected by satellites accessible.

“Our planet’s satellites are amassing unprecedented amounts of data about Earth, yet our ability to download this information is severely limited by outdated technology,” said Mačiulis. “By leveraging optical communication systems that are more than 10 times faster than traditional radio communications, Astrolight aims to bridge the connectivity gap between space and Earth, and this way unlock the full potential of satellite data for the benefit of humanity.”

The company plans to finish certifying its prototype space-to-Earth laser communication terminal ATLAS-1 this year with an in-orbit demonstration mission scheduled for early 2025. The next steps involve undergoing an environmental test campaign to ensure that ATLAS-1 can operate in the harsh conditions of space.