NASAÂ has launched a projectÂ to develop a laser communications system for theÂ Orion spacecraft the agency intends to use for its future manned missions to deep space.
TheÂ Laser-Enhanced Mission and Navigation Operational Services system is designedÂ to provide connectivity to astronauts in space and allow them toÂ communicate withÂ peopleÂ on Earth, NASA said Thursday.
Goddard Space Flight Center’s exploration and space communications projects division has been selected toÂ build LEMNOS in partnershipÂ with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory.
Don Cornwell, director of the advanced communication and navigation division at NASA’sÂ space communications and navigation program office, said he believes laser communications canÂ optimizeÂ data return from destinations beyond low-Earth orbit and boostÂ outreach opportunities from outer space.
NASA envisions laser communications technology working to transmit data at aÂ rate of up toÂ a hundred times fasterÂ than current systems, NASA noted.
The space agency plansÂ to conduct a one-week test of LEMNOS aboard Orion’s second mission, which couldÂ take the spacecraft beyond the moon.
Mark Brumfield, deputy program manager of implementation atÂ Goddard’s ESC division, said NASA aimsÂ toÂ deploy more laser communications terminals on future Orion exploration missions after the initial test.