NASA Is Working on a 'High-Speed' Space Internet That'll Be Faster Than Earth's Connectivity
Space communication is vital, and NASA is taking steps towards high-speed Internet connectivity for the sky.
The space agency is currently developing a "trailblazing" and long-term technology geared towards improving Internet connectivity and space communication systems. The project is called the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and it's designed to help NASA discover ways to improve laser communications systems in space.
Part of the technology is to enable higher data rates for a high-speed connection between the Earth and certain spacecraft. This will result in faster scientific data transfer from space to Earth and vice versa.
"LCRD is the next step in implementing NASA's vision of using optical communications for both near-Earth and deep space missions," Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, and team lead of the LCRD project said in a press release.
This means that the project includes an innovative Internet technology that is not yet available here on Earth. Laser communications, called optical communications uses, the beam of light to transmit data.
Optical communications yield 10 to 100 times better results compared to radio-frequency (RF) technology. The new laser communications are also smaller and lighter in weight, which also requires lesser power to operate. The advancements are deemed necessary for future deeper space explorations to Mars and even beyond.
"We are also designing a laser terminal for the International Space Station that will use LCRD to relay data from the station to the ground at gigabit-per-second data rates," Don Cornwell, the director of Advanced Communication and Navigation division of the Space Communications and Navigation program at NASA, said in a statement.
Cornwell said they're planning to operate the new terminal by 2021. They hope that the new technology will also be used in other NASA missions that orbit the Earth.
The new project LCRD aims to demonstrate the longevity and reliability of laser connectivity and its ability to adapt to different weather conditions. The LCRD is designed to work for a maximum of five years. There are two ground terminals each with laser modems located in Table Mountain, California and another one in Hawaii.