Tethers Unlimited lifts the curtain on mesh networking system for small satellites

SWIFT-LINQ at work
An artist’s conception visualizes the connections between small satellites using the SWIFT-LINQ system. (Tethers Unlimited Illustration)

Bothell, Wash.-based Tethers Unlimited says it’s delivered a new type of mesh networking system designed to connect small satellites in orbit to a confidential customer.

  • The system, called SWIFT-LINQ, is a software app that runs on the company’s SWIFT software-defined radios to connect satellite constellations and other types of clusters in orbit with a cross-link mesh network. The system supports standard TCP/IP protocols for data transfer, enabling swarms of satellites to do tasks that would typically require larger and more expensive satellites. Each satellite becomes a node in a network that can reroute data traffic as satellites come in and out of range.
  • Tethers Unlimited says the SWIFT-LINQ app will be installed on three S-band SWIFT radios that will fly on a trio of small satellites due for launch this year. The satellites will be connected in a mesh network with data transfer rates of 48 kilobits per second. And that’s just the start. “We are building out a family of ‘apps’ that will increase the utility of the platform to satellite operators as well as enable us to roll out new services for resilient, secure and efficient satellite communications,” Tethers Unlimited CEO Rob Hoyt said today in a news release.
  • The company says work is underway to enable future SWIFT-LINQ systems to connect hundreds of satellites, drones and ground systems at higher speeds. Tethers Unlimited’s general manager, Seckin Secilmis, compared the effort to the development of wireless devices. “The modern smartphone had to start somewhere, and these humble beginnings are a very necessary step to allowing us to understand the interactions between wirelessly connected nodes in space,” Secilmis said.

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