As the internet becomes a more and more populated place on earth, NASA is working on developing a system that would enable high-speed data movement on the internet leading to higher speeds in “space”.
Current systems that are being used across the globe make use of the Radio-frequency (RF) signals for the exchange of data. Such a communication system suffers from several drawbacks such as slower speeds, easy overloading of the bandwidth in use, etc.
The new system that NASA has been working on makes use or LASER and is called as the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). In this system, the data is encoded into the LASER signal instead of the RF that was used in its place earlier. This system would be used for long distance communication such as the communication taking place between a spacecraft and the terminal on earth. Steve Jurczyk, the Associate Administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and the head of the LCRD project, says, “LCRD is the next step in implementing NASA’s vision of using optical communications for both near-Earth and deep space missions.” He also adds that this technology would revolutionalize the space communication tech in a massive way. For the LCRD project, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate would be collaborating and partnering with MIT Lincoln Labs as wells as the US Air force.
While the actual capabilities of this communication system is yet to be tested in the real life scenario (other than the low orbit missions), the LCRD is scheduled to be launched and used in the year 2019 and would offer a data speed which is over 100 times better than what is possible with the existing space communication systems. Such Laser based communication would be out for the long haul, and it has been developed keeping in mind that they would be used for long journeys to future manned missions to the Moon, Mars and other deep space exploration mission. In such mission, the communication systems become critical for the success of the same.