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The Internet is no longer limited by the slow speed of dial-up connections, so why should our satellites be?
LLCD was powered-on, and the signal with LADEE was acquired on September 27th, 2013.
LLCD began to demonstrate the capabilities of laser communications, from the Moon, with the first successful pass occurring on October 18th, 2013.
LLCD will continue to demonstrate the possibilities of laser communications technology and the future of space communications for 30 days.
After LADEE was successfully placed into lunar orbit, the LLGT in White Sands, NM was able to acquire the location of the LADEE spacecraft. After the LLGT connected with the LLST aboard the LADEE spacecraft, their signals were "locked" and data began to flow from the Moon back down to Earth, via infrared laser light.
The LADEE/LLCD mission launched on September 6th, 2013 at 11:27p EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), on Wallops Island, VA.
What is LLCD?
Compared to the days of dial-up, today's web-sites load at lightning speed. Just like you need your web-pages load quickly and securely, NASA scientists and engineers want the same quick connectivity with their data-gathering spacecraft. To meet these demands NASA is moving away from their form of dial-up (radio frequency-based communication), to their own version of high-speed Internet; using laser communications.
The Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) is NASA's first high-rate, two-way, space laser communication demonstration.
NASA is venturing into a new era of space communications using laser communications technology and it's starting with the LLCD mission. For decades NASA has launched and operated satellites in order to expand our understanding of Earth and space science. In order to sustain this vision, satellites have increased their data-capturing capabilities and have had to send data over greater distances. Each of these advancements have required increases to data downlink rates and higher data volumes. Just as your home computer struggled to download large multimedia files in the past, NASA's communication networks may soon reach the same complications as data volumes continue to grow. In an effort to address these challenges and enhance the Agency's communications capabilities, NASA has directed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) to lead the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD).
The LLCD mission consists of space-based and ground-based components. The Lunar Laser Space Terminal (LLST) is an optical communications test payload flying aboard the LADEE Spacecraft. The LLST is demonstrating laser communications using a data-downlink rate that is five-times the current communication capabilities from lunar orbit. The ground segment consists of three ground terminals that will perform high-rate communication with the LLST aboard LADEE. The primary ground terminal, the Lunar Laser Ground Terminal (LLGT) is located in White Sands, NM and was developed by MIT/Lincoln Laboratory and NASA. The ground segment also includes two secondary terminals located at NASA/JPL's Table Mountain Facility in California and the European Space Agency's La Teide Observatory in Tenerife, Spain.
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