The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) mission successfully launched Tuesday before sunrise at 5:19 a.m. from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
LCRD is a technology demonstration that will pave the way for future optical communications missions.
Future missions that decide to use optical communications could potentially use LCRD as their relay.
One of LCRD’s first operational users will be the Integrated LCRD Low-Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal (ILLUMA-T), a payload that will be hosted on the International Space Station.
The terminal will receive high-resolution science data from experiments and instruments onboard the space station and then transfer this data to LCRD, which will then transmit it to a ground station.
After the data arrives on Earth, it will be delivered to mission operation centers and mission scientists.