Hoeven Highlights Need for More Resilient, Secure Satellite & UAS Communications With Space Force Chief

Senator Outlines Importance of Laser Communications Development, LEO Satellite Mission

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – At a hearing of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee this week, Senator John Hoeven highlighted the need for more resilient satellite communication systems, including between satellites and unmanned aerial systems (UAS),with General John Raymond, Chief of the U.S. Space Force, who affirmed his commitment to the priority and agreed with the senator on the need to stay ahead of the nation’s adversaries in developing satellite technologies. Specifically, Hoeven outlined the following priorities he is working to advance:

  • Laser Communications – Last month, Hoeven announced a $6 million award from the Space Development Agency (SDA) to General Atomics to demonstrate satellite to MQ-9 Reaper laser communications.
    • Utilizing high frequency lasers, rather than radio frequencies, enables transmissions between satellites and unmanned aircraft to use less power and be more secure against detection and interference.
  • Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellites – Hoeven is working to secure funding for a new satellite operations center in Grand Forks and recently hosted SDA Director Dr. Derek Tournear in North Dakota to review efforts to establish the new LEO satellite mission.
    • The LEO satellites will be part of a broad network of satellites at a variety of orbits, serving as the backbone for all U.S. military communications across the globe.
    • The senator stressed the need for the mission in Grand Forks to not only support SDA operations, but also for its potential to strengthen the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in the region.

“Our adversaries are continually trying to surpass our defense capabilities,” said Hoeven. “That’s why developing laser communications and establishing the new LEO mission are so important. Both are key to ensuring our satellite communications system is resilient and secure. With the work at General Atomics and the satellite operations center that we’re working to bring to Grand Forks, our state is well-positioned yet again to play a critical role in the future of our nation’s defense.”