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.
The agencys first end-to-end laser relay system, LCRD is set to launch as part of the United States Space Force Space Systems Commands Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) mission. STP-3 will launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape CanaveralSpaceForce Station in Florida. Its two-hour launch window opens at 4:04 a.m. EST.
Laser communications also called optical communications because they use light to send information offer higher data rates than traditional radio frequency systems, enabling more data to be transmitted with each transmission. LCRD will demonstrate space-to-ground laser communications linking ground stations in Hawaii and California. Later in mission, LCRD will receive and transmit data from an optical terminal that NASA will place on the International Space Station.
NASA will offer remote, live interviews with officials in English and Spanish from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST on Friday, Dec. 3. To book an interview during this time, media should complete and submit the form available at this link by 12 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2.