The nanosatellite optical downlink experiment (NODE) implements a free-space optical communications (lasercom) capability on a CubeSat platform that can support low earth orbit (LEO) to ground downlink rates > 10 Mbps. A primary goal of NODE is to leverage commercially available technologies to provide a scalable and cost-effective alternative to radio-frequency-based communications. The NODE transmitter uses a 200-mW 1550-nm master-oscillator power-amplifier design using power-efficient M-ary pulse position modulation. To facilitate pointing the 0.12-deg downlink beam, NODE augments spacecraft body pointing with a microelectromechanical fast steering mirror (FSM) and uses an 850-nm uplink beacon to an onboard CCD camera. The 30-cm aperture ground telescope uses an infrared camera and FSM for tracking to an avalanche photodiode detector-based receiver. Here, we describe our approach to transition prototype transmitter and receiver designs to a full end-to-end CubeSat-scale system. This includes link budget refinement, drive electronics miniaturization, packaging reduction, improvements to pointing and attitude estimation, implementation of modulation, coding, and interleaving, and ground station receiver design. We capture trades and technology development needs and outline plans for integrated system ground testing. (C) The Authors. Published by SPIE.