By Kendall Murphy NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
GREENBELT, Md. — NASA uses lasers to send information to and from Earth, employing invisible beams to traverse the skies, sending terabytes of data – pictures and videos – to increase our knowledge of the universe. This capability is known as laser, or optical, communications, even though these eye-safe, infrared beams can’t be seen by human eyes.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (NASA PR) — Teams from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge and University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville are currently testing components of NASA’s CubeSat Laser Infrared CrosslinK (CLICK) B/C demonstration, aiming to validate that the technology can be packaged into a CubeSat and work as expected. CLICK B/C is the second of two sequential missions designed to advance optical communications capabilities for autonomous fleets of CubeSats.
WASHINGTON – A joint-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory/NASA experiment prepares to investigate the origins of Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) that could affect Navy satellites and harm personnel during future crewed missions to the moon and beyond.
Researchers will use a new instrument, the Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph Pathfinder (UVSC Pathfinder) to try to understand the origins of these particles, how they’re generated close into the sun to provide accurate space weather forecasting when these events happen.
Launch Vehicle: Atlas 5 (United Launch Alliance) Payloads: STP-6 and several rideshares Launch Window: 4:04-6:04 a.m. EST (0904-1104 UTC) Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla. Webcast: www.nasa.gov
The U.S. Space Force mission will launch the STPSat-6 satellite and several secondary payloads. STPSat 6 hosts NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration payload and the Space and Atmospheric Burst Reporting System-3 for the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin will fly Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant, Yozo Hirano, to the International Space Station on a 12-day mission.
Launch Vehicle: Electron (Rocket Lab) Payloads: BlackSky 14 & 15 Earth observation satellites Launch Time: 6:45 p.m. EST (2345 UTC) Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand Webcast: www.rocketlab.com
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9 (SpaceX) Payload: Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer Launch Window: 1:00-2:30 a.m. EST (0600-0730 UTC) Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Florida Webcast: www.nasa.gov
Launch Vehicle: New Shepard (Blue Origin) Payload: New Shepard Launch Time: TBA Launch Site: Corn Ranch, Texas Webcast: www.blueorigin.com
Laura Shepard Churchley will fly aboard a suborbital craft named in honor of her late father, NASA astronaut Alan Shepard, who became the first American in space 60 years ago and walked on the moon a decade later. She will be joined by: Good Morning America co-host Michael Strahan; Voyager Space chairman and CEO Dylan Taylor; Lance Bess, principal and founder of Bess Ventures and Advisory; Lance’s son Cameron Bess; and Evan Dick, managing member of Dick Holdings. This will be the 19th launch of the New Shepard system.
CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — The Dec. 6 launch of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 551 rocket carrying the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) mission has been scrubbed. The team repaired the ground storage system but will require additional time to verify the sample integrity of the fuel prior to tanking operations.
By Katherine Schauer NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
GREENBELT, Md. — Our televisions and computer screens display news, movies, and shows in high-definition, allowing viewers a clear and vibrant experience. Fiber optic connections send laser light densely packed with data through cables to bring these experiences to users.
CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is taking a step toward the next era of space communications with the launch of its Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) on Sunday, Dec. 5. Live coverage of the launch is scheduled to air on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA App beginning at 3:30 a.m. EST.
Dates and times subject to change without notice. And remember: no wagering.
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9 Payloads: 53 Starlink broadband satellites Location: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Time: 6:20 p.m. EST (2320 GMT) Webcast: www.spacex.com
Launch Vehicle: Soyuz ST-B/Fregat-MT Payloads: Galileo 27 & 28 navigation satellites Location: Guiana Space Center Time: 7:31 p.m. EST (0031 GMT on Dec. 2) Webcast:https://www.youtube.com/c/arianespace
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V Payloads: U.S. Space Force LDPE-1 space tug; STPSat-6 technology demonstrator with NASA Laser Communications Relay Demonstration payload Location: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Time: 4:04-6:04 a.m. EST (0904-1104 GMT) Webcast:http://www.ulalaunch.com
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is inviting the public to take part in virtual activities and events ahead of the launch of the agency’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) mission. Launch is scheduled for 4:04 – 6:04 a.m. EST on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.
TITUSVILLE, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) is gearing up for launch this fall, no earlier than Nov. 22. The payload arrived in Florida in May, fully integrated into its host spacecraft and ready for its final testing before being lofted into space.
By Katherine Schauer NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
GREENBELT, Md. — Launching this summer, NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will showcase the dynamic powers of laser communications technologies. With NASA’s ever-increasing human and robotic presence in space, missions can benefit from a new way of “talking” with Earth.
by Matthew D. Peters NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
GREENBELT, Md. — Optical communications, transmitting data using infrared lasers, has the potential to help NASA return more data to Earth than ever. The benefits of this technology to exploration and Earth science missions are huge. In support of a mission to demonstrate this technology, NASA recently completed installing its newest optical ground station in Haleakala, Hawaii.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On July 16, 2020, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) payload was installed and integrated on the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program Satellite 6 (STPSat-6) in preparation for a 2021 launch.
As an experimental payload, LCRD will demonstrate the robust capabilities of laser communications, which can provide significant benefits to missions, including bandwidth increases of 10 to 100 times more than radio frequency systems.
Prior to spacecraft integration, the LCRD payload went through several tests and blanket installations at Northrop Grumman’s integration and test facility in Dulles, Virginia. While LCRD underwent testing, Northrop Grumman technicians also prepared the spacecraft for LCRD’s integration.
Now that the two components have been fully integrated, they will undergo environmental testing and end-to-end compatibility testing to ensure the spacecraft and payload can properly communicate with one another.
LCRD will be NASA’s first two-way optical relay, sending and receiving data from missions in space to mission control on Earth. LCRD is paving the way for future optical communications missions, which could use LCRD to relay their data to the ground.
In 2022, the Integrated LCRD Low-Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal (ILLUMA-T), hosted on the International Space Station, will be the first LCRD demonstration from low-Earth orbit.
LCRD was built by Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, before being shipped to the Northrop Grumman facility in January 2020. LCRD is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, and managed by NASA’s Technology Demonstration Missions and the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program office.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its latest assessment of NASA’s major projects at the end of April. It found that NASA’s performance on its major projects continued to deteriorate on cost and schedule. (Full Report)
Below are key excerpts from the report that provide an overview of where NASA stands on its major projects. Although GAO did not analyze the Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon, the watchdog warned the Trump Administration’s decision to move the landing date up from 2028 to 2024 will put more pressure on the space agency.
“Looking ahead, NASA will continue to face significant cost and schedule risks as it undertakes complex efforts to return to the moon under an aggressive time frame,” the report stated.
A NASA project to demonstrate advanced optical laser communications in space is running nearly $50 million over budget and 14 months behind schedule, according to a recent assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) project is designed to advance optical communication technology for use on near-Earth and deep space missions.