Researchers from NASA want to speed up the transfer of data from space by using a system of lasers. She will serve the agency until at least 2030.
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).
The launch of the satellite will take place from the Cape Canaveral launch site in Florida, and has already been postponed due to numerous problems that have arisen since the launch originally scheduled for 2019. However, according to the researchers, the timing of the mission will benefit the human lunar landing program, which is scheduled for 2025.
“This technology is very important in many ways,” said Badri Younes, deputy assistant administrator for NASA’s space communications and navigation program.
The agency claims that lasers will transmit 10 to 100 times more data to Earth than using radio frequencies. This will be enough to work until at least 2030, even if the amount of information increases significantly.
The use of lasers will also help avoid problems of congestion in the radio frequency spectrum, Younes said; this problem has been exacerbated by growing constellations of satellites in low-earth orbit, and companies are frequently filing regulatory claims over each other’s spectrum.
The demonstration will take place at an altitude of 35,786 km to test laser communications for at least two years.