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Nasa Plans Improved

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the Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft approaches the International Space Station


NASA is testing the use of software-defined radios (SDRs) to enable its Deep Space Network to function as an Internet in space. NASA is preparing a SDR test module for the International Space Station that will provide an Internet connection with an uplink of 100 megabits per second.

Pat Elben, chairman of the software defined radio architecture and technology team (SAT) at NASA's Space Communications and Navigation directorate, says NASA is establishing a new test platform, called the Communication Navigation and Networking Reconfigurable Testbed (CoNNeCT), that will help NASA test waveforms based on the agency's Space Telecommunications Radio System (STRS), which is NASA's standard for space-rated SDR systems. CoNNeCT will be added to the International Space Station in 2011 and used to demonstrate communications between the station and the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite constellation.

NASA developed its own SDR standard because of the demanding requirements of space communications, which often requires radios to be reprogrammed remotely while the radio is on a spacecraft traveling through space. STRS is part of a redesign of NASA's Deep Space Network that will be based on SDRs and high-bandwidth optical links. "NASA's goal for 2024 is a highly integrated, IP-based disruption-resistant network," Elben says.

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