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Enhanced Beacon Recognition for Laser Communications



Technical Challenge:

To eliminate the threat of denial of service and data stealing.


A survey of past, current, and planned activities involving free-space laser communication systems indicates that laser beacons used to precisely aim the transmitting laser for mobile platforms are trusted without exception, and assumed to be the only beacon in the transmitter's field of view during acquisition and subsequent tracking. The Enhanced Beacon Recognition method utilizes a locator beacon that is modulated with an on-off keyed (binary) pattern known to the receiving terminal and which is unique from other sources in the receiver's field of view. The pattern may be cryptographically derived when appropriate.

The Enhanced Beacon Recognition For Laser Communications method results in fast beacon acquisition and continuous tracking, beacon authentication, and virtually eliminates the threat of a denial of service attack and/or data stealing by an adversary.

Demonstration Capability:

Currently, there exists a non-graphical software application that simulates the operation of the Enhanced Beacon Recognition algorithm. The output results must be viewed using a graphical application such as MATLAB. Additionally, a report exists that utilizes the program and graphically demonstrates the results; the document is titled: "Enhanced Beacon Recognition For Laser Communications, Masters Project." This document was part of a George Washington University Masters of Science in Telecommunications and Computers requirement for the DOD class of 2000.

Potential Commercial Application(s):

The Enhanced Beacon Recognition Method provides an accurate method for obtaining the locator beacon for pointing the communications laser, and provides a method for authenticating the recipient of the communicated data.

Patent Status:

Issued - United States Patent Number 6,510,401

Reference Number: 1218

If you are interested in exploring this technology further, please call express your interest in writing to the:

National Security Agency
NSA Technology Transfer Program
9800 Savage Road, Suite 6541
Fort George G. Meade, Maryland 20755-6541


Date Posted: Jan 15, 2009 | Last Modified: Jan 15, 2009 | Last Reviewed: Jan 15 2009