The potential benefit to NASA missions include: i) Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) which is part of the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program, ii) the OPALS mission (Optical Payload for Lasercom Science) which will be a demonstration mission for optical communications from the ISS, iii) the optical comm trunkline on Mars 2022/2024 orbiter as a follow on to a Deep Space Optical Communications 2020 demo, iv) deep space cubesat optical links, and v) planetary lander/rover optical proximity link demo on future Mars sample return missionFurthermore, this development is in alignment with NASA technology roadmaps and addresses NASA technology grand challenges by drastically increasing space communication link capacity at LEO/GEO.
The ultra-compact, low power, and low cost optical communication systems that will be enabled by the non-mechanical beamsteerers proposed here have numerous commercial applications. They will be instrumental in last-mile telecommunications environments in urban setting, for field-deployable high-definition video systems and a variety of reconfigurable, low-cost, commercial high-bandwidth data links. Extending the capability to space based platforms will find utility in satellite relay networks, surveillance systems, and general increased communications bandwidths. The beamsteerers also have additional potential for laser rangers, scanned illuminators, designators, and many more.