NASA has launched a project to develop a laser communications system for the Orion spacecraft the agency intends to use for its future manned missions to deep space.
The Laser-Enhanced Mission and Navigation Operational Services system is designed to provide connectivity to astronauts in space and allow them to communicate with people on Earth, NASA said Thursday.
Goddard Space Flight Center’s exploration and space communications projects division has been selected to build LEMNOS in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory.
Don Cornwell, director of the advanced communication and navigation division at NASA’s space communications and navigation program office, said he believes laser communications can optimize data return from destinations beyond low-Earth orbit and boost outreach opportunities from outer space.
NASA envisions laser communications technology working to transmit data at a rate of up to a hundred times faster than current systems, NASA noted.
The space agency plans to conduct a one-week test of LEMNOS aboard Orion’s second mission, which could take the spacecraft beyond the moon.
Mark Brumfield, deputy program manager of implementation at Goddard’s ESC division, said NASA aims to deploy more laser communications terminals on future Orion exploration missions after the initial test.