The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) aims to showcase the unique capabilities of optical communications.
Space Force, Northrop Grumman, MIT
Dec. 7, 2021
Laser Communications Relay Demonstration
Optical communications will provide significant benefits for missions, including bandwidth increases of 10 to 100 times more than radio frequency systems.
Additionally, optical communications provides decreased size, weight, and power requirements. A smaller size means more room for science instruments. Less weight means a less expensive launch. Less power means less drain on the spacecraft’s batteries. With optical communications supplementing radio, missions will have unparalleled communications capabilities.
NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and a NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory space weather payload to study the Sun’s radiation lifted off at 5:19 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.
In this twenty-second exposure, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launches on the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) mission from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission’s Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) spacecraft hosts NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and the NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph (UVSC) Pathfinder.
NASA's LCRD: 6 Things You Need to Know
NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration will use laser communications systems to transmit data from space to Earth. Below are six things you need to know about NASA’s revolutionary LCRD mission.