PARIS — Well over a dozen European companies, using R&D funding from the 22-nation European Space Agency (ESA) and individual national governments, are developing optical laser communications hardware for space-to-space, space-to-ground and ground-to-ground applications.

The efforts, spread out across Europe, are continuing in the shadow of the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA) missile warning and tracking network, which plans 400 satellites in multiple orbits using multiple providers of optical communications terminals for inter-satellite communications.

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