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Satnews Daily
January 24th, 2018

Free Space Optical Modem Under Development by LGS Innovations for NASA's LCRD Mission

LGS Innovations has been selected to support the NASA Integrated Laser Communication Relay Demonstration (LCRD) Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) User Modem and Amplifier (ILLUMA) project.

Artistic rendition of NASA's Laser .Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD)

For this pathfinder program, LGS will develop a free space optical modem that will fly aboard the International Space Station as the first demonstration of a fully operational, end-to-end optical communications system. The ILLUMA modem will leverage LGS Innovations’ rich heritage in free space laser communications and fiber laser technology.

The ILLUMA program will use lasers to encode and transmit data at rates 10 to 100 times faster than today’s communications equipment, requiring significantly less mass and power than equivalent RF communications systems. The LGS Innovations optical modem will communicate data from the ISS to ground and back via the NASA LCRD satellite, which will fly in a geosynchronous orbit. This new capability will greatly increase the amount of scientific data transferred from the ISS, while supporting multiple channels of ultra-high-definition video to and from space.

Kevin Kelly, CEO of LGS Innovations, reported that the LGS modem will provide the space station a next-generation optical communications terminal and will also allow for improved size, weight, and power (SWaP) over previous RF communications systems. By increasing communications efficiency, the copmany will help facilitate a faster exchange of data to the scientific community..