In addition to demonstrating record-breaking data download and upload speeds to the moon at 622 megabits per second (Mbps) and 20 Mbps, respectively, LLCD also showed that it could operate as well as any NASA radio system.
Don Cornwell, LLCD mission manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said that throughout their testing they did not see anything that would prevent the operational use of this technology in the immediate future.
Operationally, LLCD demonstrated the ability to download data from the LADEE spacecraft itself.
LLCD also demonstrated the ability to "hand-off" the laser connection from one ground station to another, just as a cellphone does a hand-off from one cell tower to another.
LLCD is being flown aboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer satellite known as Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer satellite (LADEE), currently orbiting the moon.
LADEE, with LLCD onboard, reached lunar orbit 30 days after launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., on Sept.
LLCD not only demonstrated a record-breaking download rate but also an error-free data upload rate of 20 Mbps.
is funded through a partnership with NASA's Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program, and Science Mission Directorate.
Badri Younes, NASA's deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation (SCaN) in Washington, said that LLCD
is the first step on our roadmap toward building the next generation of space communication capability.
LLCD is NASA's first dedicated system for two-way communication using laser instead of radio waves.
Cornwell said that LLCD is designed to send six times more data from the moon using a smaller transmitter with 25 percent less power as compared to the equivalent state-of-the-art radio (RF) system and lasers are also more secure and less susceptible to interference and jamming.
The LLCD experiment is hosted aboard NASA's LADEE: a 100-day robotic mission designed, built, integrated, tested and will be operated by Ames.