Laser Communications Relay Demonstration:
NASA recently demonstrated its Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). It was launched in December 2021.
- It is the agency’s first-ever laser communications system.
- The LCRD will help the agency test optical communication in space.
- LCRD is a technology demonstration that will pave the way for future optical communications missions.
- The LCRD payload is hosted onboard the US Department of Defense’s Space Test Program Satellite 6 (STPSat-6).
- It will be in a geosynchronous orbit, over 35,000km above Earth.
- Optical communications systems are smaller in size, weight, and require less power compared with radio instruments.
- 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.