More Leaps for Mankind. NASA Engineer Don Cornwell Discusses the Future of Space Communication

More Leaps for Mankind. NASA Engineer Don Cornwell Discusses the Future of Space Communication

More Leaps for Mankind. NASA Engineer Don Cornwell Discusses the Future of Space Communication

By Kendall Fisher, executive producer at Grow Wire

Buckle up, astronauts! We’re getting intergalactic on this episode of the “Grow Wire Podcast.” 

NASA’s Director and System Capability Leader of the Advanced Communication and Navigations Division, Donald Cornwell, joins us to discuss his adventures developing and demonstrating new technology for space communication.

Cornwell takes us on the full journey: From a moment in elementary school that kickstarted his obsession with space, to a NASA internship during his years at the University of Maryland, which would then lead to a career with NASA (minus a few detours), dedicated to building better communication in space—like overseeing lunar laser communications.

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Now, you may be asking: What’s the point of better communication in space? 

Cornwell addresses this question and so much more. He emphasizes the importance of mental health for astronauts, and how better communication (like being able to video chat with family members) will assist with that. He also discusses the importance of data. We’re currently relying on radio waves for communication in space, which means the data rate is exceptionally low, only allowing us to scratch the surface…literally.  

For example, we’ve only mapped out about 10% of Mars thus far. That’s a lot of data still left on the table! So, Cornwell and his team are working on the Deep Space Optical Comm Program in which we can expect to see more data from deeper space, including Mars. To put that in perspective: They’re working on massive terminals that will travel 400 million miles. That’s four times the distance to the sun. 

Needless to say, this episode is out of this world. You most certainly won’t want to miss it!

Listen on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud and YouTube.