In the field of atmospheric research lidar is a powerful technology to measure remotely different parameters like gas or aerosol concentrations, wind speed or temperature profiles. For global coverage, spaceborne systems are advantageous. To achieve highly accurate measurements over long distances high pulse energies are required. A Nd:YAG-MOPA system consisting of a stable oscillator and two subsequent InnoSlab-based amplifier stages was designed and built as a breadboard demonstrator. Overall, more than 500 mJ of pulse energy at 100 Hz pulse repetition frequency at about 30 ns pulse duration in single longitudinal mode were demonstrated. When seeded with 75 mJ pulses, the 2nd amplifier stage achieved an optical efficiency (pump energy to extracted energy) of more than 23 % at excellent beam quality. Recently, different MOPA systems comprising a single InnoSlab amplifier stage in the 100 mJ regime were designed and built for current and future airborne and spaceborne lidar missions. Amplification factors of about 10 at optical efficiencies of about 23 % were achieved. In order to address the 500 mJ regime the established InnoSlab design was scaled geometrically in a straight forward way. Hereby, the basic design properties like stored energy densities, fluences and thermal load densities were retained. The InnoSlab concept has demonstrated the potential to fulfill the strong requirements of spaceborne instruments concerning high efficiency at low optical loads, excellent beam quality at low system complexity. Therefore, it was chosen as baseline concept for the MERLIN mission, currently in phase B.