The NASA Glenn Research Center has
awarded Spectrum Astro a contract to develop spacecraft network hardware
called Space Network Devices (SND), the company announced today.
contract is part of the High Rate Data Delivery (HRDD) Thrust Area of NASA’s
Cross-Enterprise Technology Development Program (CETDP).
The CETDP develops
critical space technologies that lower costs, improve performance and enable
new missions for the Earth Science, Space Science, and Human Exploration and
Development in Space (HEDS) Enterprises.
The HRDD Thrust Area facilitates
communication and information technology breakthroughs enabling the high rate
delivery of data between space and the ground.
The contract is valued at
$960,000 with a two-year period of performance and contains options that
increase it to $3 million over five years.

The objective of the NASA Glenn project is to develop prototype network
hardware that enables the use of TCP/IP for space applications.
Local Area
Network (LAN) hardware, including a switch and Network Interface Card (NIC),
will be developed.
Future plans include utilizing these components as
building blocks for a space-based router.
The idea behind Space Network
Devices is to take concepts and technologies developed for the Internet and
use them to communicate onboard a spacecraft.
For example, communication
between a sensor instrument payload interface board and a Command and Data
Handling electronics board on the spacecraft bus would occur over a
space-borne LAN.

“Spectrum Astro is excited to be working with NASA to develop the
next-generation communications architecture for space electronics,” said
Jennifer Lazbin, Spectrum Astro SND Program Manager.
“This will allow faster,
easier access to data by scientists while enabling and simplifying operations
and reducing mission costs.”

This technology is a first step in transitioning to a space communications
paradigm where seamless interoperability is possible using TCP/IP onboard a
spacecraft, between a spacecraft and the ground, and from spacecraft to
The spacecraft or specific components on the spacecraft will
possess IP addresses and communicate with other nodes on the Internet.
use of open standards such as LAN standards and TCP/IP for space applications
provides a means of simple, cost-effective routing of data by leveraging the
tremendous investment already made in terrestrial Internet communication and
information technology.

With the use of standard interfaces onboard a spacecraft, life cycle costs
and schedules can be reduced during the development, integration, test, and
operations phases.
For example, instead of taking the time required to design
and build custom test equipment for each spacecraft, standards-based COTS test
equipment could be purchased and immediately implemented during critical parts
of testing and integration.

Spectrum Astro is a privately held, rapidly growing high technology
company, specializing in the design, development, integration, test, and
production of high performance satellites, space-based satellite systems and
subsystems for sophisticated defense, science and commercial opportunities.
For more information, visit