An altimeter is a critical instrument in planetary missions, for both safe operations and science activities. We present required specifications and link budget calculations for light detection and ranging (LIDAR) onboard the Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) spacecraft. During the mission phase, this LIDAR will continuously measure the distance between the spacecraft and its target. The time-series distance provides important diagnostic information for safe spacecraft operations and important information for geomorphological studies. Because MMX is a sample return mission, its LIDAR must accommodate physical disturbances on the Martian satellite surface. This resulted in changes to the optical system design.