NASA’s communications system is getting a serious upgrade soon, with the launch of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) slated for tomorrow morning, Sunday, Dec. We’ve got details on the launch and how to watch it live.
Most of NASA’s current missions use radio frequency communications to send data back to Earth. The Persistence rover, for example, beams data to one of the spacecraft orbiting the planet, which then sends it to Earth, where it’s picked up by giant dishes from NASA’s Deep Space Network. However, this system has limited bandwidth, and with more and more complex devices being sent into space, more bandwidth is required to transmit communications more efficiently.
The solution is to use a different frequency for communication. Switching to laser communication (also known as optical communication) would increase bandwidth by 10 to 100 times compared to radio communications. But this change requires new infrastructure, which the LCRD project will test.
“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,” the agency writing, “Laser communications – also called optical communications because they use light to send information – offer higher data rates than traditional radio frequency systems, allowing more data to be transmitted with each transmission. The LCRD will demonstrate space-to-ground laser communications connecting ground stations in Hawaii and California. Later in the mission, the LCRD will receive and transmit data from an optical terminal that NASA will house on the International Space Station.
The relay system will be launched on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida as part of a Space Force mission called Space Test Program 3 (STP-3).
The launch will be livestreamed by NASA on its NASA TV channel. You can either go to NASA website Or by using the video player embedded above.
Coverage begins Sunday, December 5th at 3:30 a.m. ET (12:30 a.m. PT), and a two-hour launch window is scheduled to begin at 4:04 a.m. ET (1:04 a.m. PT). If that’s too early – or too late! — so don’t worry, you can go back and watch the event after it happens nasa youtube channel,