This is the Optical Module of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration satellite scheduled for launch on December 4.
(image sources: NASA, Wikipedia.org, By NASA - http://esc.gsfc.nasa.gov/267/278/291/Images/LLCD-Images.html (image link), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30231720)
By Glenn A. WalshS
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
UPDATE - 2021 Dec. 1: NASA's Laser Communications Relay Demonstration Mission (LCRD) launch now targeted for Sunday Morning, 2021 December 5, with a launch window of 4:04 to 6:04 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) / 9:04 to 11:04 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
NASA-TV Live-stream coverage of launch begins December 5 at 3:30 a.m. EST / 8:30 UTC. Internet link to NASA-TV Live-stream coverage near end of this blog-post.
Previously scheduled launch dates had been November 22 and December 4.
The following is the original blog-post published 2021 November 13:
NASA's Laser Communications Relay Demonstration Mission (LCRD) is expected to launch early on Saturday Morning, 2021 December 4, with a launch window of 4:04 to 6:04 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) / 9:04 to 11:04 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). LCRD will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
LCRD will be a payload on a Department of Defense (DoD) / U.S. Space Force satellite, STPSat-6, which is a geosynchronous satellite for the third DoD Space Test Program (STP-3) mission. A geosynchronous satellite is placed in an orbit which matches the axial rotation period of the Earth: 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.0905 seconds (one sidereal day). A satellite with a circular geosynchronous orbit has a constant elevation above the Earth of 22,236 statute miles / 35,786 kilometers.
With this launch, NASA is testing the next step in optical communications. Using infrared lasers, this test will demonstrate the technology to transfer science data between Earth and space satellites and vehicles.
Optical communications provides several advantages over traditional radio communications used today for transferring data between Earth and Outer Space. Increased benefits include a reduction in the size, weight, and power requirements of the optical communications equipment. Reduced size and weight are always helpful when launching any payload; size and weight comprise a major cost of putting any type of payload into Outer Space.
Optical communications also increase the available bandwidth 10 to 100 times beyond what is available with radio frequency systems.
The LCRD mission is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, a suburb of Washington DC. LCRD will use two ground-stations during the experiments: Optical Ground Station (OGS) -1 and -2, at Table Mountain, California, and Haleakala, Hawaii, respectively.
NASA-TV Live-stream coverage of LCRD launch: Link >>> https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive
Internet Links to:Additional Information ---
Laser Communications Relay Demonstration Mission:
NASA Update - 2021 Nov. 30: Link >>> https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-sets-live-launch-coverage-for-laser-communications-demonstration
Link 2 >>> https://www.nasa.gov/lasercomms
Saturday, 2021 November 13.
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Glenn A. Walsh, Informal Science Educator &
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/
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Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: Link >>> http://www.planetarium.cc Buhl Observatory: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: Link >>> http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: Link >>> http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc
* Other Walsh Authored Blog & Web-Sites: Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/gawweb.html