GAO: Laser Communications Mission Delayed by Funding, Redesign Issues

Laser Communications Relay Demonstration satellite (Credit: NASA)

Funding shortfalls and technical challenges have caused a nearly two-year delay in the launch of NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) mission, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessment.

“LCRD entered the implementation phase in April 2017 and formally established its cost and schedule baselines of $262.7 million to launch by November 2019, which is $23.4 million higher and 23 months later than the preliminary cost estimate,” the report stated.

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World’s Smallest Satellite Laser Communication Terminal Passes CDR

CubeL (Credit: Tesat)

BACKNANG, Germany 12.04.2018 Tesat PR) — Tesat’s Laser Communication Terminal for CubeSats, CubeL, is on track after recently the Critical Design Review (CDR) was successfully held at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen. This was an important milestone for the development program on the way to its demonstration mission, which is planned to launch later this year.

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Space-to-Ground Laser Communications System for European ISS Platform

Bartolomeo with laser (Credit: Airbus)

BREMEN, German (Airbus PR) — The first high capacity space-to-ground laser communication system is to be installed on the Bartolomeo platform of the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a collaboration between Airbus Defence and Space, the Institute of Communications and Navigation of DLR (German Aerospace Center) and Tesat-Spacecom GmbH & Co. KG. The system called OSIRIS will provide direct to earth (DTE) technology with a data rate of 10 Gbps over range of about 1.500 km.

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NASA Announces Ninth Round of Candidates for CubeSat Space Missions

Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 11 small research satellites from seven states and Puerto Rico to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard space missions planned to launch in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

The selections are part of the ninth round of the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative. CubeSats are a type of spacecraft called nanosatellites, often measuring about four inches on each side and weighing less than three pounds, with a volume of about one quart. CubeSats are built using these standard dimensions as Units or “U”, and are classified as 1U, 2U, 3U, or 6U in total size.

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JAXA & Sony Sign Agreement for Laser Link Communications on ISS

Small Exposed Experiment Platform (i-SEEP) with optical communications module (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — National Research and Development Agency Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (hereafter known as JAXA, President: Naoki Okumura), Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc. (hereafter known as Sony CSL, President and Chief Executive Officer: Hiroaki Kitano) and Sony Corporation (hereafter known as Sony: President and Chief Executive Officer: Kazuo Hirai) made a cooperative research agreement with respect to conducting the on-orbit demonstrations of laser communications system. This research to be executed in the Kibo module on the International Space Station (ISS) aims at establishing a communications system of mass data between spacecraft and that which connects Earth and Space.

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“Lighten Up” – Deep Space Communications via Faraway Photons

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A spacecraft destined to explore a unique asteroid will also test new communication hardware that uses lasers instead of radio waves.

The Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package aboard NASA’s Psyche mission utilizes photons — the fundamental particle of visible light — to transmit more data in a given amount of time. The DSOC goal is to increase spacecraft communications performance and efficiency by 10 to 100 times over conventional means, all without increasing the mission burden in mass, volume, power and/or spectrum.

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Astrobotic & ATLAS Announce Lunar Laser Communications Payload


PARIS (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic, which is making the Moon accessible to the world, and ATLAS Space Operations Inc., the US leader in cloud-based satellite management and control services proudly announce today at the Paris Air Show that they have signed a payload reservation and partnership to deliver and operate the first-ever laser communications terminal on Astrobotic’s upcoming mission to the Moon. This brings the total number of deals in place for Astrobotic’s mission to eleven.

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Coming Soon: CubeSats with Frickin’ Laser Beams

CubeSats (Credit: ESA/Medialab)

Laser communications systems have become the next big thing in spacecraft design, promising improved communications. And now NASA is looking to put them on CubeSats.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has issued a request for information (RFI) seeking sources of compact laser transmitters that could be placed on one of these small satellites for a future technology demonstration space flight mission.

“Goddard is developing a CUBESat spacecraft with science mission payload for a multiple unit CUBESat spacecraft that will generate >1 Gbit/day science data at distances up to 0.5 Astronomical Units (AU). Reference 1 gives a notional CUBESat laser communications system concept,” the center said in the RFI.

“The purpose of this RFI is to solicit specific capability information from industry on master- oscillator power-amplifier (MOPA) laser communication transmitter technologies. This will be used for a cost, schedule and technical assessment to assist with preparing for a possible near-future NASA CUBESat spacecraft technology demonstration,” the RFI adds.

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NASA Taking First Steps Toward High-speed Space ‘Internet’

Engineers are currently testing the optical module assemblies on the Goddard-built optical test bench to ensure pointing accuracy during the upcoming mission. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Sandra Vilevac)

By Ashley Hume
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center,
Greenbelt, Md.

NASA is developing a trailblazing, long-term technology demonstration of what could become the high-speed internet of the sky.

The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will help NASA understand the best ways to operate laser communications systems. They could enable much higher data rates for connections between spacecraft and Earth, such as scientific data downlink and astronaut communications.

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Lasers Could Give Space Research its ‘Broadband’ Moment

Several upcoming NASA missions will use lasers to increase data transmission from space. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Amber Jacobson, producer)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Thought your Internet speeds were slow? Try being a space scientist for a day.

The vast distances involved will throttle data rates to a trickle. You’re lucky if a spacecraft can send more than a few megabits per second (Mbps) — a pittance even by dial-up standards.

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NASA Plans Further Laser Communications Tests in Hawaii

laser_hawaii
HILO, Hawaii (PISCES PR) — Since its founding in 1958, NASA has solely relied on RF (radio frequency) technology to facilitate communications between spacecrafts in the heavens and bases on Earth. While RF continues to be the mainstay for space communication, rapidly advancing technologies and science instruments, as well as an increasingly crowded RF spectrum are driving the need for an alternative and superior method.

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ESA Inaugurates Space Data Highway With Laser Communications

ESA logoPARIS (ESA PR) — The European Data Relay System began servicing Europe’s Earth observing Copernicus programme yesterday, transferring observations in quasi-real time using cutting-edge laser technology.

The EDRS–SpaceDataHighway will now begin providing a commercial service to the European Commission’s Copernicus Sentinels – the first and only of its kind. EDRS is a public–private partnership between ESA and Airbus Defence and Space, with ESA supporting the initial technology development and the company providing the commercial service. The European Commission is EDRS’s anchor customer through its Sentinel-1 and -2 missions.

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DLR Researchers Set World Record in Free-space Optical Communications

Optical communications setup (Credit: DLR)
Optical communications setup (Credit: DLR)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have set a new record in data transmission using laser: 1.72 terabits per second across a distance of 10.45 kilometres, which is equivalent to the transmission of 45 DVDs per second. This means that large parts of the still under-served rural areas in Western Europe could be supplied with broadband Internet services.

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Surrey Satellite & BridgeSat to Develop Satellite Laser Communications

surrey_logoENGLEWOOD, Colo., and BOSTON, Mass., April 12, 2016 (Surrey Satellite & BridgeSat PR) Surrey Satellite Technology US LLC and BridgeSat Inc. are pleased to announce a partnership to work towards developing a free-space optical communications system that will provide secure data downlinks from satellites to a proprietary ground network at faster speeds than equivalent radio frequency solutions.

Under this partnership, Surrey will build the flight laser terminal units that will communicate with BridgeSat’s global ground network. Together, Surrey and BridgeSat aim to provide users with a “one-stop” solution to transmit data at up to 10 gigabits per second, per link.

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