HEE Photonic Labs

Ground segment & equipment
Automation & robotics
Optics & photonics
Electronics & electrical engineering

HEE Photonics Labs is a spin-off of the University of Latvia, Institute of Astronomy. The company was founded to commercialize long-term research results in Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) technology enabled by the valuable heritage of the team from the Institute of Astronomy of the University of Latvia. Long-term experience and lively expertise allow HEE Photonics Labs to develop high-precision universal satellite laser ranging with extended features.

The company headcount is 6 people with multidisciplinary expertise in optical design, electronics, very precise mechanics, signal processing hardware and software, astronomy and astrometry.

The older members of the team have been designing and producing SLR instruments since the 1970s, including SLR (LS-105) installed in Metsähovi (Finland), Potsdam (Germany), Ukraine (4 locations) and Riga (Latvia). A portable SLR (PSLR) has been successfully tested in Australia and delivered to Curtin University (Perth). 


HEE Photonics Labs offer several key technical advantages: 

  • The main optical system telescope has much better focusing of the outgoing laser beam (<1 arcsec in the far zone; this ensures strong beam focusing and better light-gathering power as one of the most important features). HEE Photonics Labs telescope can provide tracking for satellites with a diameter D ~2-3 cm, at a distance of 1000 km (the best results reached up to now in the world is ≥ 5 cm). The smallest size of an object could be tracked at a range of 37000 km (typical GEO distance) is D about ~20 cm. The best results with similar size telescopes up to now are about D ~30-50 cm.
  • Transmitting, receiving and control channels for distance measurement made coaxial. This ensures that all axes coincide even in case of changing temperature conditions and moving of the telescope axes. A common axis provides that transmitted and received laser beams are always aimed at the very same point;
  • The specific design of the optical and mechanical systems of the telescope allows to use high energy (>10J p/p) laser pulses for tracking space objects not equipped with retroreflectors like space debris as well as remote distance objects (distance to Moon and beyond); usually optical systems of other manufacturers can use only small power lasers, and as consequence, more distant objects cannot be tracked.
  • The HEE Photonics Labs complimentary high-resolution guide telescope is able to fix the coordinates of space objects in the apparatus coordinate system in real-time;
  • Advanced continuous automatic adjustment. The best of existing SLR designs allows pointing precision 1-2 arcsec. To get precise results other SLR instruments require time-consuming re-adjusting after each measurement. HEE Photonics Labs conceptually innovative optomechanical system allows us to get 0,1 arcsec precision, and continuously keep this precision during ranging. HEE Photonics Labs SLR all-optical and mount axes directions are monitored and automatically continuously restore correct adjustment.
  • As the system is broadband, additionally to SLR, a stable optical channel for data communication can be integrated to provide high data rate transmission.
  • Modularity: ensures that different types of lasers are used with different repetition rates, output power and pulse width appropriate to planned applications. Other SLR systems allow the use of only one spectrum line laser. 
  • The simple and reliable design of the system ensures easy set-up, adjustment and alignment.
  • The small size and weight allow mobility, HEE Photonics Labs SLR is designed for transportation (built-in modified standard sea transport container).


  • Satellite Laser Ranging
  • Opto-mechanical system


  • Optical collimator, Optical angle measurement, Autocollimator АK-1U, Polarimeter PКС 250М, Optical table, Metric;
  • Laser emission meter IMO-2H Optical table OL-800 Monochromator CFKT 751B Microscope MII-4 Oscilloscope HP54610B Time interval counter Stanford ResSys SR620


  • The company is a founder and member of Latvian Electrical and Optical Equipment Industry Competence Centre (http://www.leopc.lv/)
  • Received a scientific grant to perform the project “Laser beam auto tracking system for long-distance space application”
  • A long-term project “Design of a telescope for satellite laser ranging” with the University of Latvia (from 2010 to 2013)
  • “Enhanced operation Satellite Laser Ranging prototype opto-mechanical system design” – European Space Agency Contract No. 4000132032


  • Currently, HEE Photonics Lab mainly cooperates with European Space Agency and the University of Latvia.
  • Open for cooperation with governmental organisations, space agencies and companies worldwide in 1. Satellite Laser Ranging network for Space Situational Awareness (SSA) or Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST); 2. Global communications companies delivering broadband satellite Internet services. HEE Photonics Lab can provide optical communication terminals for satellites in LEO capable of establishing reliable broadband and secure laser communications for Space-to-Ground connectivity for satellites in low, medium and high Earth orbits.
Total employees6
Employees in space6
Turnover150 000 EUR
Nomales 6
Contact persons: Andris Treijs