What is ILLUMA-T?

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What is ILLUMA-T? Blog Image


The American space agency NASA is launching a groundbreaking technology demonstration known as the Integrated LCRD Low Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal (ILLUMA-T) to the Space Station.

About ILLUMA-T: 

  • It is approximately the size of a standard refrigerator.
  • It will be secured to an external module on the International Space Station to conduct its demonstration with Laser Communications Relay Demonstration LCRD.
  • The ILLUMA-T along with the LCRD (Launched in December 2021) will complete Nasa’s first two-way, end-to-end laser relay system.
  • Once ILLUMA-T is on the space station, the terminal will send high-resolution data, including pictures and videos to LCRD at a rate of 1.2 gigabits-per-second.
  • It is scheduled to launch on SpaceX’s 29th Commercial Resupply Services mission for NASA.
  • After its launch, ILLUMA-T will be installed on the station’s Japanese Experiment Module-Exposed Facility (JEM-EF).



  • Laser communications enable missions to transmit more data in a single transmission.
  • More science and exploration data from space allow NASA to make more discoveries about our planet, microgravity, and the human spaceflight experience.
  • Laser communications systems provide numerous benefits to missions, including improved size, weight, and power requirements over comparable radio systems.
  • A smaller size increases capacity on the spacecraft for other science instruments.
  • Less weight enables cost savings. Less power drain also means longer lasting batteries. 


Q1) What is a laser?

A laser, which stands for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation," is a device that generates a coherent and focused beam of light through a process known as stimulated emission. Lasers have a wide range of applications in various fields, including science, medicine, technology, communications, manufacturing, and more.

Source: Nasa to test end-to-end laser communication in space