Since its inception in 1958, NASA has relied exclusively on radio frequency (RF)-based communications as the only viable medium for exchanging data between a mission and a spacecraft. Today, with missions demanding communication with higher data rates than ever before, NASA is taking steps to embark on a new era of communication technology.
The Laser Communication Relay Demonstration (LCRD) project will help pave the way, pioneering technologies that will enable the exchange of data through beams of light.
Space laser communications technology has the potential to provide 10 to 100 times higher data rates than traditional radio frequency systems for the same mass and power. Alternatively, numerous studies have shown that a laser communications system will use less mass and power than a radio frequency system for the same data rate.
Video credit: NASA Goddard
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