Laser Enhanced Mission Communications Navigation and Operational Services Pipeline (LEMNOS)


On NASA’s journey to the Moon, the Orion spacecraft will be integral. It looks remarkably like the Apollo capsule, which placed humanity on the Moon in 1969, but Orion hosts many new, cutting-edge technologies and capabilities. Among them, the Orion Artemis II Optical Communications System (O2O) will provide Orion with data rates as much as 10 times higher than possible through current systems.

The terminal, managed by the Laser-Enhanced Mission Communication Navigation and Operational Services (LEMNOS) Pipeline project, leverages laser communications, also known as optical communications, for use on NASA’s cutting-edge Orion spacecraft. Launching in 2023, Artemis II will be the first crewed flight since the Apollo missions. During a roughly ten-day mission, Orion will loop around the Moon before heading back to Earth. O2O will make the mission one of the first to use laser communications technologies for crewed spaceflight.

With laser systems onboard, O2O will enable live, 4K ultra-high-definition video from the Moon, as well as enhanced science data transmission and more. In addition to video, O2O will transmit procedures, pictures, flight plans, communications, and voice between Orion and Earth. O2O will provide Orion with a “giant leap” in communications technology, allowing optical communications to join radio on NASA’s journey to the Moon and beyond.

After O2O’s ride on Artemis II, the LEMNOS Pipeline project will provide optical communications terminals to subsequent missions as well as provide a variety of optical terminals for science missions from low-Earth orbit to lunar to Lagrange Points 1 and 2.

Quick Facts

O2O will launch on the Orion spacecraft for Artemis II.
O2O is a partnership between Goddard Space Flight Center, the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program office, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, and Johnson Space Center.
The Artemis II mission will be the first-time astronauts fly beyond low-Earth orbit in over 50 years.
LEMNOS was named after the island of Lemnos, where in Greek mythology Orion’s sight was restored. A group of interns helped to name the office.