NASA is about to get new eyes and ears. This week, the agency plans to launch two long-term science missions: the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE).
Laser comms: LCRD will be the first NASA mission sent to orbit this week, with its launch window opening early Tuesday morning. The mission objective: To test optical laser communications. The technology could be the answer to speed, quantity, and lag issues with getting information back from space.
LCRD will operate for at least the next two years, demonstrating for NASA how laser communications function in varying weather conditions in a realistic environment.