Monday, January 25, 2021

NASA's Psyche spacecraft to test Deep Space laser communications

 NASA's upcoming Psyche mission, which will explore the origin of planetary cores by studying the metallic asteroid 16 Psyche, will use a Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package that is designed to transmit data in photon packets from the asteroid belt back to earth, a distance of nearly 200 million miles. The Psyche mission is scheduled to launch in August 2022.

The laser communications will be able to transmit data over long distances at rates up to 100 times faster than traditional radio frequency systems. 

In November 2020, CACI delivered an engineering model of the laser communication transmitter to JPL, having passed space qualification testing. To pass space qualification testing, CACI engineers demonstrated the transmitter could withstand both space launch and flight.

CACI said is currently designing laser communications systems for five space hardware programs, including NASA’s Orion EM-2 Optical Communications (O2O) project, which will enable broadband data communications to and from the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle designed to take humans into lunar orbit, and the NASA Integrated LCRD Low-Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal (ILLUMA-T) program, which will deploy laser communications technology on the International Space Station.

John Mengucci, CACI President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “The successful operation by NASA of a CACI-developed laser communications transmitter demonstrates the advanced mission technology this company designs for our country. CACI is excited to support this NASA deep space mission with fast and reliable communications, and is ready to deliver advanced laser-based technologies to other space, aerial and terrestrial missions to come.”