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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program is responsible
for providing communications and navigation services to space flight
missions throughout the solar system. Astronauts, mission controllers,
and scientists depend upon the reliable transmission of information
between Earth and spacecraft, from low-Earth orbit to deep space.
The SCaN Testbed is an advanced integrated communications system
and laboratory facility to be installed on the International Space
Station (ISS). Using a new generation of Software Defined Radio
(SDR) technologies, this ISS facility will allow researchers to
develop, test, and demonstrate new communications, networking,
and navigation capabilities in the actual environment of space.
The SCaN Testbed will thus advance space communication technologies
in support of future NASA missions and other U.S. space endeavors.
SCaN Testbed Value for Space Missions
During its development at NASA Glenn Research Center,
the SCaN Testbed was also known as the Communications, Navigation,
and Networking reConfigurable Testbed (CoNNeCT) project.
The growth of Software Defined Radios (SDRs) offers NASA the opportunity
to improve the way space missions develop and operate space transceivers
for communications, networking, and navigation. Reconfigurable SDRs
with communications and navigation functions implemented in software
provide the capability to change the functionality of the radio during
a mission and optimize the data capabilities (e.g. video, telemetry,
voice, etc.). The ability to change the operating characteristics
of a radio through software once deployed to space offers the flexibility
to adapt to new science opportunities, recover from anomalies within
the science payload or communication system, and potentially reduce
development cost and risk through reuse of common space platforms
to meet specific mission requirements. SDRs can be used on space-based
missions to almost any destination.
SCaN Testbed Project Mission Objectives
The SCaN Testbed Project will provide NASA, industry, other Government
agencies, and academic partners the opportunity to develop
and field communications, navigation, and networking technologies
in the laboratory and space environment based on reconfigurable,
software defined radio platforms and the STRS Architecture.
The SCaN Testbed Project Experiments Program will devise, solicit,
and conduct on-orbit experiments to validate and advance the
open architecture standard for SDRs; advance communication,
navigation, and network technologies to mitigate specific NASA
mission risks and to enable future mission capabilities.
Identified below are several research and technology areas
the SCAN Testbed was designed to support.
Software Defined Radios operating at S, L, and Ka-band.
On-board data management function and payload networking.
Radio Science experiments using the unique capabilities of
Precise Navigation and Timing
NASA’s Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN) Office has developed
an architecture standard for SDRs used in space and ground-based
platforms to provide commonality among radio developments to provide
enhanced capability and services while reducing mission and programmatic
risk. The Space Telecommunications Radio System (STRS) architecture
standard defines common waveform software interfaces, methods of
instantiation, operation, and testing among different compliant hardware
and software products. These common interfaces within the architecture
abstract, or remove, the application software from the underlying
hardware to enable technology insertion independently at either the
software or hardware layer.
SCaN Testbed Location on ISS
The SCaN Testbed will launch to the ISS on a Japanese H-II Transfer
Vehicle (JAXA HTV3), and be transferred and installed via
Extravehicular Robotics (EVR) to the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier-3
(ELC3) in the inboard, Ram-facing, Zenith-facing payload location
on an exterior truss of the ISS. Figure 1 illustrates the location
of the SCaN Testbed on the ISS.
Figure 1. SCaN Testbed Location on ISS