NASA to test ‘space lasers’ with latest launch (VIDEO)
An American aerospace firm is aiming to create 200 megabits per second (Mbps) connections in space using satellites equipped with lasers. The new satellites were launched on Sunday from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
If successful, this new tech could pave the way for networks of satellite-connected devices to send data, which will be useful for military, tech, and meteorological agencies, to and from space via laser connections.
The company, Orbital ATK, is sending its Cygnus spacecraft, complete with NanoRacks CubeSats satellites, to the International Space Station. NASA is hoping that the mission will highlight the importance of small sensor spacecraft to the future of space exploration.
LAUNCH! Science & cargo headed to @Space_Station on @OrbitalATK’s #Antares rocket carrying #Cygnus spacecraft. Watch https://t.co/mzKW5uDsTipic.twitter.com/YJiuvb9Iit— NASA (@NASA) November 12, 2017
The twin satellites will propel themselves using water, while using cameras, beacons, and laser rangefinders to adjust the relative position measurements between the two devices.
NASA believes that the satellites could lead to “significantly enhanced communication speeds between space and Earth and a better understanding of laser communication between small satellites in low-Earth orbit.”
We have payload separation! Go #Cygnus! #OA8— Orbital ATK (@OrbitalATK) November 12, 2017
“Capabilities in proximity operations enable multiple small spacecraft to operate cooperatively during science or exploration missions, approach another spacecraft or object for in-space observation or servicing, or connect small spacecraft together to form larger systems or networks in space,” the space agency also said.
The launch was initially scheduled to take place on Saturday but was “scrubbed” after an aircraft was detected in the vicinity of the launch pad.
Launch was aborted for 7:37am ET today due to an aircraft in the launch zone. Watch: https://t.co/mzKW5uDsTipic.twitter.com/ltpdPInYtL— NASA (@NASA) November 11, 2017
.@OrbitalATK#Cygnus stands at the launch pad this morning counting down to a 7:14am ET lift off. Check out the mission profile of the cargo craft. pic.twitter.com/zCrIkbVu7E— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) November 12, 2017