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The development of a Nd : YAG space laser communication system is discussed with respect to history, potential applications, and present status. The basic design of an Air Force Space Communications Flight Test operable at a data rate of 1000 Mbit/s is described at both the system and component level. An engineering feasibility model of this system has been completed, and the results of tests data are reported. Communications at 1000 Mbit/s with a receiver sensitivity of 20 photoelectrons/bit was demonstrated for a bit error rate of 10-6, interterminal tracking with angle erros less than 1 µrad, and station to station acquisition in less than 6 s. A simulated range of 40 000 km was used.