Early next month, SpaceX will send a clutch of science experiments to the space station investigating a range of topics, from high-speed laser communications to rolling atmospheric waves on Earth.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft, is scheduled to launch toward the International Space Station (ISS) no earlier than Nov. 5, kicking off the CRS-29 cargo mission. Launch coverage will be available here at Space.com, via NASA Television.
“All of the science really supports the initiatives of NASA
, as well as the ISS program, in supporting innovative research, being able to improve science capabilities on the International Space Station, and for future commercial and exploration programs,” said Meghan Everett, deputy program scientist for the ISS program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center
in Houston, during a telephone press conference on Thursday (Oct. 26).
An example is the laser experiment, called ILLUMA-T (“Integrated LCRD Low-Earth-Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal”), which aims to boost ISS communications while assisting future missions in deep space. ILLUMA-T is the remaining hardware item needed to transmit data through the agency’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) satellite that launched in 2021. When the system is ready, the satellite will relay the information to optical ground stations in Hawaii and California.
Related: SpaceX to launch final piece of NASA’s 1st two-way laser communications relay
“Future missions have potentially exceptionally large data needs, and so we have to think about how we’re going to meet those needs,” NASA’s Jason Mitchell said during the same press conference. “We all understand that more data means more discoveries,” added Mitchell, the director for the advanced communications and navigation technologies division at NASA’s space communication and navigation program. (That program is funding ILLUMA-T.)
NASA is looking to beef up its communications capabilities beyond those provided…