NASA Testing Laser-Based Space Communication

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NASA is looking to rework the way we approach communications between our planet and space, with one giant step scheduled for next week. As part of its Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration, or LLCD, the U.S. space agency is attempting to both legitimize and raise confidence in its two-way laser technology. Developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, LLCD is NASA’s first system for two-way communication to use lasers instead of conventional radio waves, Extreme Tech reported.

“LLCD is designed to send six times more data from the moon using a smaller transmitter with 25 percent less power as compared to the equivalent state-of-the-art radio (RF) system,” Don Cornwell, the LLCD manager, said in a statement. “Lasers are also more secure and less susceptible to interference and jamming.”

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The success of the project could prove beneficial, given the volume of information being sent in the context of multiple space missions. It could eventually even open the possibility of high-definition 3D videos being transmitted between Earth and deep space.

“The LLCD mission consists of a space terminal that will reach lunar orbit as a payload aboard the LADEE [Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer] spacecraft, and a robust ground segment that consists of three ground terminals in optimal locations around the globe,” NASA said. The LADEE/LLCD mission is scheduled to launch Sept. 6 at 11:27 p.m. EDT. “The LADEE/LLCD spacecraft is scheduled to launch aboard Orbital Science’s Minotaur V rocket and will be the first planetary mission to launch from the Wallops Flight Facility, located on Wallops Island, Va.,” the space agency said.

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