LGS to provide ground-to-space laser communications system for the International Space Station

Jan. 25, 2018
LGS Innovations was selected to develop a free-space optical communications modem that will fly aboard the ISS.

LGS Innovations (Herndon, VA) has been selected to support the NASA Integrated Laser Communication Relay Demonstration (LCRD) Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) User Modem and Amplifier (ILLUMA) project. 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 incorporate free-space laser communications and fiber laser technology from LGS.

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"The LGS modem will not only provide the space station a next generation optical communications terminal, but will also allow for improved size, weight, and power over previous RF communications systems," said Kevin Kelly, CEO of LGS Innovations. "By increasing communications efficiency, we will help facilitate a faster exchange of data to the scientific community. We are proud to support NASA's mission and drive the evolution of photonics 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.

LGS Innovations provides solutions in wireless communications, signals processing and analysis, optical networking, photonics, routing and switching, and spectrum management and has offices across the US and overseas that employ more than 1200 associates around the world, including 750 scientists and engineers.

SOURCE: LGS Innovations; https://www.lgsinnovations.com/lgs-innovations-develops-free-space-optical-modem-for-nasa-satellite-communications/

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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