November 30, 2022

Successful Space Force Launch of NASA’s Laser Communications Tech & Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launches on the Department of Defenses Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) mission from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Tuesday, December 7, 2021. The objectives Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) spacecraft hosts NASAs Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and the NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph (UVSC) Pathfinder. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
NASAs Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and a NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory space weather condition payload to study the Suns radiation took off at 5:19 a.m. EST on Tuesday, December 7, 2021.
The payloads introduced aboard the Space Test Program Satellite-6 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida as part of the U.S. Space Forces Space Test Program 3 mission.
LCRD will show NASAs very first two-way laser relay interactions system, sending out and getting information over unnoticeable infrared lasers, which can make it possible for information rates 10 to 100 times higher than radio frequency systems typically used by spacecraft.

” This launch presents an exciting new innovation for area objectives,” stated Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASAs Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Demonstrating this ingenious way of communicating with spacecraft will unlock for this innovation to expand the horizons of future space objectives.”
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket bring the Department of Defenses Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) objective is seen brightened by spotlights at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, from NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The missions Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) spacecraft hosts NASAs Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and the NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph (UVSC) Pathfinder. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
The other NASA science payload that launched aboard the satellite was the Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph Pathfinder (UVSC Pathfinder), a joint try out the Naval Research Lab that studies the origins of solar energetic particles, the Suns many dangerous form of radiation.
” Were enjoyed welcome UVSC Pathfinder to the heliophysics observatory fleet,” said Daniel Moses, chief technologist in the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters. “This cooperation has the prospective to establish a brand-new, high-impact tool with predictive ability for energetic solar particle storms that will make it possible for future space missions, helping us explore further and take a trip safer.”
NASAs LCRD will show the benefits of space-to-ground laser interactions, likewise called optical communications. LCRD will send out and receive data at a rate of 1.2 gigabits per second from geosynchronous orbit to Earth.
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket and the United States Space Forces STP-3 objective on launch day. The objective hosts NASAs Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and the NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph (UVSC). Credit: NASA
” LCRD is NASAs essential milestone for the buildup of the Decade of Light effort, which includes the infusion of optical innovation into space interactions and navigation,” said Badri Younes, deputy partner administrator for NASAs Space Communications and Navigation program at NASA Headquarters. “By the 2030s, we expect optical innovation to play a critical role in allowing an interoperable, trusted, and robust space communications infrastructure, strolling and providing seamless operations capability in between government and business users and companies.”
After launch and confirmation that the payload is working well in area, LCRD will start to transfer and receive information from its place in geosynchronous orbit– about 22,000 miles above Earth– with ground stations in California and Hawaii using infrared lasers.
LCRD will invest 2 years performing experiments, examining how weather condition and other modifications in Earths environment can impact laser communications, and measuring link performance to fine-tune its operational abilities and processes. Some experiments will simulate relay circumstances between the Moon and Earth to notify how laser interactions could one day be used in NASAs Artemis objectives. The experiments and simulations will inform the advancement of future NASA and business objectives wanting to make use of optical interactions in Earth orbit and for exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket and the United States Space Forces STP-3 mission sit on Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral at sundown. Credit: United Launch Alliance
Later on in its mission, LCRD will work as a relay in between an optical interactions terminal on the International Space Station and ground stations in the world. NASAs Integrated LCRD Low-Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal will permit the very first demonstration of a completely operational end-to-end laser interactions system from the spaceport station.
LCRDs mission, development, vision, and style will be covered in depth in the new season of NASAs The Invisible Network podcast. Over the course of 5 episodes starting on Dec. 7 and each Wednesday thereafter, the podcast will highlight the future of the laser communications technologies this objective is proving in area and the people that are making it occur.
LCRD is led by NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in collaboration with NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. LCRD is funded and handled through NASAs Technology Demonstration Missions program, part of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, and the Space Communications and Navigation program at NASA Headquarters.
UVSC Pathfinder was created and developed at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. It was funded through NASAs Heliophysics Program and the Office of Naval Research. It is managed by the Heliophysics Technology and Instrument Development for Science program office at NASA Headquarters.
STP is run by the United States Space Forces Space Systems Command. STPSat-6 was constructed by Northrop Grumman.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launches on the Department of Defenses Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) mission from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Tuesday, December 7, 2021. The objectives Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) spacecraft hosts NASAs Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and the NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph (UVSC) Pathfinder. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the Department of Defenses Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) objective is seen brightened by spotlights at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, from NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The objectives Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) spacecraft hosts NASAs Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and the NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph (UVSC) Pathfinder. The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket and the United States Space Forces STP-3 mission on launch day.

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