Space-rated active optical cables

July 18, 2019
AirBorn's Space-rated Active Optical Cable (SAOC) offers space and aerospace engineers all the benefits of fiber optical cables with the ease of a traditional copper cable assembly.
The SAOC takes a standard copper signal and translates it to a fiber optical signal within the connector body.
The SAOC takes a standard copper signal and translates it to a fiber optical signal within the connector body.

AirBorn (Georgetown, TX) announced that its highly-anticipated SAOC (Space-rated Active Optical Cable) is now available for customers to specify and purchase.

Per the manufacturer, "AirBorn’s SAOC next-generation space interconnect is the first fully tested and qualified active optical cable available to the marketplace today. The culmination of 5 years of technological development, testing, and analysis resulted in a first-of-its-kind interconnect solution specific to the space market."

AirBorn says its SAOC affords engineers the benefits of fiber optical signal transmission with the ease of copper cable installation

“The SAOC technology further demonstrates AirBorn’s commitment to solving our customers’ challenges through continuous innovation,” AirBorn CEO Cindy Lewis said. “This technology places AirBorn at the forefront of innovation for the ever-expanding space exploration market.”

The SAOC takes a standard copper signal and translates it to a fiber optical signal within the connector body. Further, Airborn says the SAOC reduces engineering time by eliminating need for a specialized transceiver and time spent polishing and terminating fiber. 

“A prime contractor in the space industry knew we had active optical cable technology in house and asked if we could design and qualify a ruggedized version for spaceflight,” explained David Koenig, Vice President for AirBorn’s Space Business Unit. “Our team accepted the challenge and through continuous collaboration, developed a technology that exceeded our customer’s needs as we worked through to a flight-ready design. Now, SAOC is launched into the market and stands ready to be specified into equipment destined for space.”

AirBorn says the SAOC installs like a traditional copper cable but yields the same benefits of speed, distance, and EMI protection engineers have come to expect from fiber-optic cabling. A single-connection interface accommodates both traditional copper cabling and SAOC, giving system designers flexibility.

“The need for faster data rates continues to grow, so AirBorn’s product development group anticipates this trend by working to bring faster speeds while insuring signal integrity,” said Jason Smith, Senior Director of Technology Development. “We will soon be adding the AOC technology to all of AirBorn’s existing product lines, building on the technology scope for all our standard product.”

Today, the SAOC technology is built into AirBorn’s MicroSI, a rugged, high-speed Micro D interconnect platform. AirBorn says the MicroSI’s long-standing space flight heritage made it a natural fit to house the SAOC technology. Additionally, a “ruggedized”, non-space-rated version is also available. AirBorn's RAOC (Rugged Active Optical Cable) provides the durability essential for intense battlefield action or rugged industrial environments.

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