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Overview of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration Project
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION GREENBELT MD GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER
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This paper provides an overview of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration Project LCRD, a joint project between NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center GSFC, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology JPL, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory MITLL. LCRD will provide two years of continuous high data rate optical communications in an operational environment demonstrating how optical communications can meet NASAs growing need for higher data rates, or for the same data rate provided by a comparable RF system, how it enables lower power, lower mass communications systems on user spacecraft. In addition, LCRDs architecture will allow it to serve as a testbed in space for the development of additional symbol coding, link and network layer protocols, etc. This paper reviews the current concepts and designs for the flight and ground optical communications terminals, the critical technologies required, and the concept of operations. It reports preliminary conclusions from several trade studies conducted at GSFC, JPL, and MITLL. The flight optical communications terminals will be flown on a commercial communications satellite in geosynchronous orbit to be launched no earlier than December 2016, and will demonstrate a technology critical for NASAs Next Generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE