NASA is preparing to test laser technology in space. This mission aims to accelerate space communications. The Laser Communication Relay (LCRD) demonstration will launch on December 4 after a two-year delay. The technology will be launched into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket during the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) mission. The mission is expected to be launched from the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida.
Despite the delay, investigators suggest the LCRD will be launched just in time to benefit Artemis’ manned moon landing mission slated to be executed in 2025.
NASA has elaborated on the use of lasers in space communications. He said the technology can send 10 to 100 times more data back to Earth than radio frequencies.
If missions started using lasers, it would also avoid overcrowding the radio frequency spectrum, noted Badri Younes, Deputy Assistant Administrator of NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation Program.
The space agency even shared a video on NASA’s Goddard YouTube channel to show how LCRD will work.
Overpopulation of the radio frequency spectrum has accelerated since the mega-constellations of satellites in the Earth’s low orbits have multiplied. The LCRD is important because NASA and the commercial sector are planning several space missions using Artemis, as well as the planned Gateway space station and the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.
The demonstration will travel to geosynchronous orbit at 22,236 miles (35,786 kilometers) and will not reach the moon. The test will run for at least two years.
NASA said the demonstration will be much longer than other successful short missions that have sped up space communications.
Trudy Kortes, director of technology demonstrations at NASA’s Space Technology Missions Directorate, said: âThis new system will not only provide higher data transmission rates, but will optimize what we call SWAP – or size, weight. and power. It will be smaller in volume, weigh less and use less energy than the current state of the art [technology]. “
The mission plan was approved in 2011. In 2018, it received a warning from the Government Accountability Office regarding certain changes in its design and scope. Later, the coronavirus pandemic created hurdles due to security quarantines and supply chain issues. NASA officials also said there were new requirements associated with switching to a payload hosted by the US Space Force, which further delayed the launch date. NASA will soon launch more laser missions, not only to and from the Moon, but also further into the Solar System.