BlueHalo Technology on Orbit as Part of NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD)
ARLINGTON, VA – As a long-standing partner in NASA’s laser communications efforts, BlueHalo’s inertially stable platform assemblies serve as a key component of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). The LCRD will test laser communications capabilities from geosynchronous orbit (GEO) with numerous experiments to refine laser technologies further. It launched as a payload on the Space Force Space Test Program’s STPSat-6, part of the Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) mission, which launched from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on December 7, 2021.
The LCRD will allow NASA to evaluate atmospheric disturbances on lasers and practice switching support from one user to the next. After the experiment phase, LCRD will transition to supporting space missions by sending and receiving data to and from satellites over infrared lasers to demonstrate the benefits of a laser communications relay system.
The first in-space user of LCRD will be NASA’s Integrated LCRD Low-Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal (ILLUMA-T), which is set to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2022. BlueHalo delivered a compact, two-axis laser communications stabilized gimbal for the ILLUMA-T. The terminal will receive high-quality science data from experiments and instruments onboard the space station and then transfer this data to LCRD at 1.2 gigabits per second (Gbps). LCRD will then transmit the data to ground stations at the same rate.
LCRD and ILLUMA-T programs follow the groundbreaking Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD) program, which downlinked data over a laser signal at 622 megabits-per-second, proving the capabilities of laser systems from the Moon. BlueHalo designed the inertially stable platform assemblies and provided precision angular rate sensors for that highly successful demonstration.
“When we talk about Transformation, we talk about fielding capability and getting it in the hands of those that need it most,” said Jonathan Moneymaker, Chief Executive Officer at BlueHalo. “Being part of the NASA LCRD payload architecture aboard the STP-3 mission is an incredible accomplishment of the team and a beautiful illustration of what it means to be part of BlueHalo.”
“BlueHalo is proud of our partnership with NASA’s LCRD Program Team,” said Dan Gillings, BlueHalo’s Space Superiority and Directed Energy Sector President. “Our work on the LCRD program has refined our expertise in providing space-qualified, interoperable optical terminals to relay high-volume, mission critical data in Near Earth and Deep Space.”
BlueHalo is purpose-built to provide industry-leading capabilities in the domains of Space Superiority, Space Technology, Directed Energy/c-UAS, Autonomy, Advanced RF, Cyber, and SIGINT. BlueHalo focuses on inspired engineering to develop, transition, and field next-generation capabilities to solve the most complex challenges of our customers’ critical missions and reestablish our national security posture in the near-peer contested arena. www.bluehalo.com
Learn More About NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD)
Video Courtesy of NASA