LGS Innovations Develops Free Space Optical Modem For NASA Satellite Communications

January 23, 2018 – LGS Innovations, a technology company providing specialized mission-critical communications research and solutions, has been selected to support the NASA Integrated Laser Communication Relay Demonstration (LCRD) Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) User Modem and Amplifier (ILLUMA) project. For this pathfinder program, LGS will develop a free space optical modem that will fly aboard the International Space Station as the first demonstration of a fully operational, end-to-end optical communications system. The ILLUMA modem will leverage LGS Innovations’ rich heritage in free space laser communications and fiber laser technology.

“The LGS modem will not only provide the space station a next generation optical communications terminal, but will also allow for improved size, weight, and power over previous RF communications systems,” said Kevin Kelly, CEO of LGS Innovations. “By increasing communications efficiency, we will help facilitate a faster exchange of data to the scientific community. We are proud to support NASA’s mission and drive the evolution of photonics technology.”

The ILLUMA program will use lasers to encode and transmit data at rates 10 to 100 times faster than today’s communications equipment, requiring significantly less mass and power than equivalent RF communications systems. The LGS Innovations optical modem will communicate data from the ISS to ground and back via the NASA LCRD satellite, which will fly in a geosynchronous orbit. This new capability will greatly increase the amount of scientific data transferred from the ISS, while supporting multiple channels of ultra-high-definition video to and from space.