Status Report

NASA to Beam Video From Space Via Laser

By SpaceRef Editor
June 4, 2014
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WHAT:  NASA’s OPALS project will beam enhanced-definition video via laser from the International Space Station to Earth on Thursday, June 5.  The beam will be received at the Table Mountain Observatory in Wrightwood, California, and then transmitted to the OPALS mission team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Media who RSVP in advance are invited to be with the OPALS team in their mission support area at JPL for the first planned official transmission. The transmission takes place at the same time the International Space Station is visible passing over the Los Angeles area in the twilight sky.

The Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) is a technology demonstration that could help fundamentally change the way NASA communicates with future spacecraft.  Optical communication tools like OPALS use focused laser energy to achieve data rates 10 to 1,000 times higher than current space communications, which rely on radio. This initial video test will transmit a video entitled “Hello, World.”

WHO:  The OPALS mission team, comprised largely of young engineers, including mission manager Matt Abrahamson.

WHEN: OPALS’ laser downlink is expected Thursday, June 5, between 8:20 and 8:23 p.m. PDT. The space station pass over Southern California will begin at 8:20 p.m. and conclude at 8:26 p.m., and will be visible to the naked eye in the twilight sky. For where and when to see the space station from other locations, please visit  Signal processing takes approximately 20 minutes after the downlink concludes, at which time the team plans to watch the “Hello World” video.


WHERE:  OPALS mission support area at JPL. JPL is located off the Berkshire/Oak Grove Drive exit of the 210 (Foothill) Freeway. Visitor parking is to the left (west) of the JPL main guard gate, across the street from the JPL Visitors’ Center.

Space in the mission support area is limited.  Reporters who would like to cover the event at JPL must arrange access in advance by contacting Stephanie Smith in the JPL Media Relations Office by noon PDT on Thursday, June 4, at 818-393-5464 or

Video products related to the laser transmission will be available on YouTube at  The products include an animation depicting the laser transmission and the “Hello, World” video being transmitted.

For more information about OPALS, visit:

For more information about the International Space Station, visit:


SpaceRef staff editor.