The LCRD would network with multiple ground stations in the event of bad weather (Image: NASA)
Conceptual image of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration that is designed to increase the data rate of space communications (Image: NASA)
Since the dawn of the space age, NASA has been relying on radio communications technology to send and receive data to and from spacecraft. Although it has developed higher data-rate radio frequency systems, data-compression, and other techniques to boost the amount of data that its current RF systems can handle, they can't keep pace with the projected data needs of advanced instruments and further human exploration. To break this bottleneck, NASA is turning to optical communications technology that would use lasers to increase data rates over existing systems by anywhere from 10 to 100 times.
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