NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD)

NASA is set to test a “Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) technology” in space, with the aim of speeding up space communications.

Key Points

  • The LCRD will be launched on December 4, following a two-year delay.
  • It will be launched into space by Department of Defence, onboard United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket during Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) mission.
  • Mission will be launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
  • It will benefit “Artemis manned Moon-landing mission”, which is scheduled to be executed in 2025.

Significance of the Laser Mission

Laser technology in space will allow 10–100 times more data sent back to Earth, as against radio frequencies. This technology will also prevent overcrowding of radio frequency spectrum. LCRD is significant as NASA and commercial sector are planning several space missions using Artemis as well as Commercial Lunar Payload Services programme and planned Gateway space station.

Overcrowding of the radiofrequency spectrum

Overcrowding of radiofrequency spectrum has increased since the number of mega-constellations of satellites in Low Earth Orbits have increased.

About testing laser technology

The laser technology mission will travel to the geosynchronous orbit at 22,236 miles, but won’t reach the moon. The test will be conducted for a period of at least two years.


The plan for the laser mission was approved in 2011. However, in 2018 it got warning from ‘Government Accountability Office’ regarding some changes in its scope and design. Later, mission got postponed due to covid-19 pandemic induced restrictions.




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