With two to three deformable mirrors, three Natural Guide Stars (NGS) and five sodium Laser Guide Stars (LGS), the
Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics System (Gemini MCAO a.k.a. GeMS) will be the first facility-class MCAO
capability to be offered for regular science observations starting in 2013A. The engineering and science commissioning
phase of the project was kicked off in January 2011 when the Gemini South Laser Guide Star Facility (GS LGSF)
propagated its 50W laser above the summit of Cerro Pachón, Chile. GeMS commissioning has proceeded throughout
2011 and the first half of 2012 at a pace of one 6- to 10-night run per month with a 5-month pause during the 2011
This paper focuses on the LGSF-side of the project and provides an overview of the LGSF system and subsystems, their
top-level specifications, design, integration with the telescope, and performance throughout commissioning and beyond.
Subsystems of the GS LGSF include: (i) a diode-pumped solid-state 1.06+1.32 micron sum-frequency laser capable of
producing over 50W of output power at the sodium wavelength (589nm); (ii) Beam Transfer Optics (BTO) that transport
the 50W beam up the telescope, split the beam five-ways and configure the five 10W beams for projection by the Laser
Launch Telescope (LLT) located behind the Gemini South 8m telescope secondary mirror; and (iii) a variety of safety
systems to ensure safe laser operations for observatory personnel and equipment, neighbor observatories, as well as
passing aircrafts and satellites.