NASA is currently working on a demonstration that aims to provide high-speed internet never before experienced until now. This will be the first time that space will get to have its very own internet interface and the entire project has been named The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD).
Like the name suggests, NASA will be incorporating laser technology in order to beam up towards space crafts from earth. This kind of light emitting technology will allow for much higher data transfer rates from and to earth as well as the orbiting spacecrafts, providing for better communication facilities. Currently, the mode of communication done between earth and space is made through outdated radio correspondence. With this new-fangled laser internet, communication will be swift and without any delays, catching zero interference with clear reception.
Laser communications, which is another form of optical communications better explained, essentially transmits data on a beam of light and will be compatible with near earth as well as deep space missions for astronauts and communicating NASA engineers. This means spacecrafts can go as far and beyond as Mars and still get to communicate with earth without a fuss. This form of communication is also more convenient because it is more lightweight and smaller when compared to the regular method currently being used for communication.
According to a report by Phys.org, NASA is also making a special terminal for the relaying of data through LCRD at the International Space Station (ISS). The relaying speed will be able to achieve gigabit-per second speeds from the station to the ground. The first testing of this kind of innovation will happen by 2021 and if successful, it could make this the standard for communication between other orbiting satellites between the earth as well.
This particular project is inspired from the Lunar Laser Communications project which was part of a pathfinder mission aboard the Lunar Atmosphere Dust and Environment Explorer in 2013. That was the first time that such an idea was made to be possible and applicable. With LCRD, the mission goal is to ensure that the science and the functionality of the innovation can be tested for longevity and operability. Stringent tests will be undergone putting the tech through its paces with different environmental conditions.
There will be two terminals, which will act as modems from earth. One will be located in California while the other will be located in Hawaii. These will be located strategically so that they can match the Earth’s rotation along the orbit. The launch for the project will officially happen in 2019, and has just received the green signal by the authorities at NASA for a test demonstration.
Now astronauts will probably get to Netflix their favorite shows when they’re in orbit.