NASA NASA is preparing to install a laser-based communications system that links the ground control tower to the International Space Station.
NASA expects the Laser Communications Relay Demo System (LCRD) to deliver more than 1 gigabit per second bidirectional data transmission, 100 times faster than a residential broadband system.
The Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is leading the project, which is undergoing testing for two to five years. NASA researchers hope this test will help them find the best way to operate a future laser-based communications system.
High-speed data links enable high-resolution 3D video transmission in space. This helps robots and other devices provide high resolution images when exploring other planets and satellites in the solar system.
NASA said it would allow the astronauts to make satisfactory video calls with their families when they were on space missions because the laser communications system could be mounted on spacecraft as well.
The test system will communicate with laser modems installed in ground stations in Table Mountain, Hawaii and California. The tower in the region shares information with LCRD satellites in geostationary orbit with a user laser. The LCRD then transfers the information to the International Space Station.
LCRD is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2019. The International Space Station will have its own laser communication system two years later.