Nothing to See Here, Just NASA Doing What it Does

Yes, that NASA:

NASA logoNASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) has made history using a pulsed laser beam to transmit data over the 239,000 miles between the moon and Earth at a record-breaking download rate of 622 megabits per second (Mbps).

LLCD is NASA’s first system for two-way communication using a laser instead of radio waves. It also has demonstrated an error-free data upload rate of 20 Mbps transmitted from the primary ground station in New Mexico to the spacecraft currently orbiting the moon.

“LLCD is the first step on our roadmap toward building the next generation of space communication capability,” said Badri Younes, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation (SCaN) in Washington. “We are encouraged by the results of the demonstration to this point, and we are confident we are on the right path to introduce this new capability into operational service soon.”

Since NASA first ventured into space, it has relied on radio frequency (RF) communication. However, RF is reaching its limit as demand for more data capacity continues to increase. The development and deployment of laser communications will enable NASA to extend communication capabilities such as increased image resolution and 3-D video transmission from deep space.

“The goal of LLCD is to validate and build confidence in this technology so that future missions will consider using it,” said Don Cornwell, LLCD manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “This unique ability developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory has incredible application possibilities.”

LLCD is a short-duration experiment and the precursor to NASA’s long-duration demonstration, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). LCRD is a part of the agency’s Technology Demonstration Missions Program, which is working to develop crosscutting technology capable of operating in the rigors of space. It is scheduled to launch in 2017.

Detail of Jeff Berkes via APoDHeh. And here you thought the cool part of LADEE was the launch.

Reminder: When juxtaposing the insanely cool stuff NASA pulls off as a matter of routine in the course of being a public agency that regularly does its job just fine against the proposition of showing up to work in the morning and not making a special effort to completely botch the job, the notion arises that perhaps we should put the agency eggheads on the task of building a Congress that actually functions properly.

I mean, you know ….

They will get to that, I’m certain, right after they achieve faster-than-light travel while accidentally proving that God is a Buddhist hedgehog running a pâtisserie in Ballard.

In exchange for which … well, right. Congress will just … er … cut their budget.

Because, you know.