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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Optical communications systems for NASA's human space flight missions
Author(s): Antonios Seas; Bryan Robinson; Tina Shih; Farzana Khatri; Mark Brumfield

Paper Abstract

The Laser-Enhanced Mission Communications Navigation and Operational Services (LEMNOS) office at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) manages two NASA optical communication related projects, the Orion EM-2 Optical Communications Terminal (O2O) and the Integrated Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) User Modem and Amplifier Terminal (ILLUMA-T) projects. The main goal of LEMNOS is the advancement and implementation of optical communications systems and technologies for NASA missions. The O2O mission is sponsored by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. The O2O project will provide optical communications capability to the Orion series of spacecraft, starting with the demonstration of operational utility on EM-2. It will be the first time a human exploration mission will rely on optical communications for its high-bandwidth link. ILLUMA-T is sponsored by the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program Office. It is destined for the International Space Station (ISS) as an external payload attached to the Japanese Experiment Module - Exposed Facility (JEM-EF). The ILLUMA-T project is developing an optical communications user terminal to demonstrate high bandwidth data transfer between LEO and the ground through the geosynchronous LCRD relay. ILLUMA-T will be the first demonstration of a LEO user of the LCRD system, pointing and tracking from a moving spacecraft at LEO to GEO satellite and vice versa, end-to-end operational utility of optical communications, and 51 Mbps forward link to ISS from ground. Both projects are collaborations between GSFC, Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Lincoln Laboratory (MIT-LL), and a number of contractors.

Paper Details

Date Published: 12 July 2019
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 11180, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2018, 111800H (12 July 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2535936
Show Author Affiliations
Antonios Seas, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Bryan Robinson, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)
Tina Shih, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)
Farzana Khatri, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)
Mark Brumfield, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 11180:
International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2018
Zoran Sodnik; Nikos Karafolas; Bruno Cugny, Editor(s)

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