Conceptual images showing the satellite megaconstellation at work.

Two satellites recently exchanged more than 200 gigabits of data over a distance of about 100 miles. The stage is set for another constellation.

Satellites don't communicate directly with each other. Instead, they use radio signals to transfer data from a ground station on Earth to another satellite. It is thought that optical terminals between satellites are more secure.

The company that developed the optical terminals for the space lasers announced the achievement on Tuesday. The two satellites were launched last summer as part of the Blackjack project. The purpose of the constellation of small satellites is to support military operations.

During the 40-minute experiment on April 14, Able and Baker used the CrossBeam free-space optical terminals. The data is transmitted by the lasers into the receiver.

The Mandrake 2 experiment was funded by the Space Development Agency and the Air Force Research Laboratory. Mandrake 2 was launched on June 30, 2021. The Blackjack constellation aims to deploy an initial group of 20 small satellites in low Earth orbit, which will connect with each other to form a mesh network in space.

The idea is to have a government-owned constellation that the military can use to connect to its bases, sensors, and weapons across the world.

We demonstrated with commoditized laser communication that we could do satellite-to-satellite communication, and that we can actually do this with commoditized laser communication platforms and technologies.

According to SpaceNews, the SDA is planning to launch 20 satellites this fall and 126 more by the year 2024. A full constellation of between 300 and 500 satellites would be created by the agency. The satellites are being developed by several companies.

With the potential launch of the military's satellites, as well as a terrifying plan by SpaceX to launch a total of 42,000 satellites as part of its Starlink constellation, things seem to be getting a little cramped in low Earth orbit. Astronomers are concerned that satellite megaconstellations will affect their ability to observe the skies.