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A ground-to-space laser communications experiment was conducted to verify the optical interfaces between a laser communications terminal in an optical ground station and an optical payload onboard a geostationary satellite 38 000 km away. The end-to-end optical characteristics such as intensity, sensitivity, wavelength, polarization, and the modulation scheme of optical signals as well as acquisition sequences of the terminals were tested under fairly good atmospheric conditions. The downlink's bit error rate was on the order of 10-10 in spite of atmospheric turbulence. Atmospheric turbulence-induced signal fading increased the uplink bit error rate, the best value of which was 2.5 ×10-5 because the turbulent layer near the earth surface affects the uplink signal more than it does the downlink one. The far-field optical antenna patterns were measured through the ground-to-satellite laser links. The long-term statistics of the optical signal data is in good agreement with the calculated joint probability density function due to atmospheric turbulence and pointing jitter error effects, which means the stationary stochastic process can be applied to not only the static link analysis but also the dynamic link performance of the optical communications link. The equivalent broadened optical beam pattern should be used for the fading analysis even though the atmospheric coherence length is larger than the antenna diameter or the optical beam diameter of the transmitter. From these results, a more accurate dynamic link design of the optical communications link can be performed that would be useful for system designers, especially for designers of commercial systems.