The experiment will fly the first ‘integrated optical’ source of entangled photon pairs in space and demonstrate that the mission lifetime of quantum communication systems in orbit may be extended via optical annealing. The payload will launch to the International Space Station in August and will be deployed on Nanoracks' Bishop Airlock for a one year mission.
This past weekend, several undergraduate students monitored a thermal vacuum risk mitigation test of the payload. Several optical components were aligned on a test plate and cooled to -40 C to demonstrate their ability to maintain their alignment and operationally survive at those temperatures. After coming back to ambient temperatures, the components will be verified and then subjected to high temperature vacuum at 60 C. With a successful demonstration, the final integration of the international payload contributions will occur in our LASSI lab in March.