The Laboratory-developed TeraByte InfraRed Delivery system sent data from a satellite to Earth at 100 gigabits per second — a rate that will transform future science missions
NOVEMBER 8, 2022
In May 2022, the TeraByte InfraRed Delivery (TBIRD) payload onboard a small satellite (CubeSat) was launched into orbit 300 miles above Earth’s surface. Since then, TBIRD has delivered terabytes of data at record-breaking rates of up to 100 gigabits per second — 100 times faster than the fastest internet speeds in most cities — via an optical communication link to a ground-based receiver in California. This data rate is more than 1,000 times higher than that of the radio-frequency links traditionally used for satellite communication and the highest ever achieved by a laser link from space to ground. And these record-setting speeds were all made possible by a communications payload roughly the size of a tissue box.