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LGS Innovations develops modem for NASA satellite comms

25 Jan 2018

Free space optics and fiber laser technology to enable end-to-end optical communications to and from satellite.

LGS Innovations, a technology company providing specialized mission-critical communications research and solutions, has been selected to support NASA's 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’ experience in free space laser communications and fiber laser technology.

“The LGS modem will not only provide the space station with 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.”

ILLUMA program

The ILLUMA program will use lasers to encode and transmit data at rates up to 100 times faster than today’s typical communications equipment, requiring significantly less mass and power than equivalent RF communications systems.

The 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.

LGS Innovations develops "mission-critical" communications products, R&D, and supporting services to U.S. defense, intelligence, and civilian agencies and commercial customers around the world. Kelly added, "We create advanced solutions in wireless communications, signals processing and analysis, optical networking, photonics, routing and switching, and spectrum management."

"These solutions drive mission success in command, control, communications, surveillance and reconnaissance cyberspace operations, and network assurance. The company is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, with offices across the U.S. and overseas. The company employs over 1,200 associates around the world, including 750 scientists and engineers.

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