NASA will launch lasers into space to speed up the transfer of information. The mission kicks off on December 7 at 4:04 am ET.
The Laser Communication Repeater (LCRD) is ready for launch – it will go into space on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket as part of the satellite-6 space test program (STPSat-6).
Most current missions use radio frequency communications. However, this system has limited bandwidth, and as more sophisticated equipment is sent into space, more bandwidth is required to efficiently transfer data.
The launch was previously scheduled for December 5, due to a leak in the kerosene fuel storage system, the mission was postponed for two days.
The organizers of the mission note that the transition to laser communication will increase the throughput from 10 to 100 times in comparison with radio communication. But this change requires a new infrastructure that the LCRD project will test.
Lasers can also help to avoid the problems of congestion in the radio frequency spectrum. This problem has become more serious due to the growing constellations of satellites in low Earth orbit, and companies are often filing regulatory suits over each other’s spectrum.
This technology is very important in many ways.
Badri Younes, NASA Deputy Assistant Program Administrator for Space Communications and Navigation