New Delhi: US space agency NASA is all set to use laser communication technology for speedy data connections between spacecraft and the Earth.

The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) mission, scheduled for launch in 2019, will help NASA understand the best ways to operate laser communications systems, the US space agency said in a statement on Wednesday.

They could enable much higher data rates for connections between spacecraft and the Earth, such as scientific data downlink and astronaut communications.

“LCRD is the next step in implementing NASA`s vision of using optical communications for both near-Earth and deep space missions,” said Steve Jurczyk, Associate Administrator of NASA`s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which leads the LCRD project. 

“This technology has the potential to revolutionize space communications, and we are excited to partner with the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate`s Space Communications and Navigation program office, MIT Lincoln Labs and the U.S. Air Force on this effort,” Jurczyk said.

Laser communications, also known as optical communications, encodes data onto a beam of light, which is then transmitted between spacecraft and eventually to Earth terminals. 

This technology offers data rates that are 10 to 100 times better than current radio-frequency (RF) communications systems.

Just as important, laser communication systems can be much smaller than radio systems, allowing the spacecraft communication systems to have lower size, weight and power requirements. 

Such capability will become critically important as humans embark on long journeys to the moon, Mars and beyond.

(With Agency inputs)

NASA set to use laser communication for high-speed space internet by: Elie Abi Younes published:

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