Optical Communications Terminal (OCT) Standard Version 3.1.0

The Space Development Agency (SDA) has released an update to the DOD Optical Communication Terminal (OCT) Standard. Version 3.1.0 of the OCT Standard is designed to ensure interoperability, enable a strong marketplace, and provide advanced communication capabilities to terrestrial, maritime, and airborne warfighting elements. More importantly, this standard provides interface specifications that enable space vehicles and payloads developed and operated by multiple organizations to readily exchange data via optical links among satellites and to the ground, and to integrate with the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture allowing more partners to leverage the Transport Layer.

The SDA OCT Standard was first published in early 2020 in preparation for the first iteration of the SDA spiral development process, Tranche 0 (T0). T0 added sufficient detail to the initial OCT Standard that multi-vendor interoperability could be demonstrated. Since early 2020, significant advancements have been made across the OCT market. These advancements have prompted the modification of the OCT Standard, and those modifications are captured in this standards document.

Laser optical links provide a large number of advantages over radio-frequency (RF) communications. Inherent to their design is the capacity to transport very large volumes of data with low latency. Additionally, optical links provide anti-cyber capabilities that significantly reduces the vulnerability associated with RF communications. Many warfighting elements prefer communication capabilities defined by low probability of intercept (LPI) and low probability of detection (LPD). Laser optical links are by their very nature LPI/LPD and very difficult to jam.

Earlier versions of the OCT Standard may be found here.

Fact Sheets

SDA One Pager

PWSA Tranche 0 Fact Sheet

Transport Layer

Calvelli Formula