Leading provider of specialized mission-critical communication research and solutions, LGS Innovations will be a part of NASA’s Orion EM-2 Optical Communications (O2O) project. The company will provide an optical modem that will enable broadband data communications to and from the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle designed to take humans into lunar orbit.
Laser communications, the next-generation space communications technology, can transmit data over long distances at rates up to 100 times faster than traditional radio frequency systems. The LGS Innovations modem will convert the data generated on the Orion spacecraft to an optical signal, allowing it to be beamed from the vicinity of the Moon to a receiver on Earth. It will also be capable of receiving the optical signal from Earth and converting it to data for the spacecraft.
The company was selected by MIT Lincoln Laboratory, a Department of Defense Research and Development Laboratory that is managing the contract. It is expected to deliver the modem in late 2019 to help maintain NASA’s Orion schedule. The advanced free space optical capability will continue to push forward space exploration and can be suitable for commercial applications such as satellite communications networks.
LGS is also helping NASA adopt laser communications for other missions with technologies such as the first deep-space laser transmitter for the Deep Space Optical Communications project, and a free-space laser modem that will fly aboard the International Space Station as the first demonstration of a fully operational, end-to-end optical communications system.