LLCD will be NASA's first-step in creating a high performance space-based laser communications system.
The LLCD mission consists of space-based and ground-based components. The Lunar Laser Space Terminal (LLST) is an optical communications test payload to fly aboard the LADEE Spacecraft and it will demonstrate laser communications from lunar orbit. The ground segment consists of three ground terminals that will perform high-rate communication with the LLST aboard LADEE. The primary ground terminal, the Lunar Laser Ground Terminal (LLGT), is located in White Sands, NM and was developed by MIT/Lincoln Laboratory and NASA. The ground segment also includes two secondary terminals located at NASA/JPL's Table Mountain Facility in California and the European Space Agency's El Teide Observatory in Tenerife, Spain.
The main goal of LLCD is proving fundamental concepts of laser communications and transferring data at a rate of 622 megabits per second (Mbps), which is about five times the current state-of-the-art from lunar distances. Engineers expect future space missions to benefit greatly from the use of laser communications technology.