Ambitious international programs like NASA Artemis are leading the way into the next era of space exploration and human space flight driven by new technologies and commercial partnerships.

TTTech Aerospace provides reliable networking and computing platforms that connect the systems on board spacecraft, launch vehicles, or satellites. Its commercial off-the-shelf products, box-level commercial solutions, testing and lab equipment, and software tools support original equipment manufacturers and system integrators in developing integrated modular electronics architectures and distributed control systems. These reduce the size, weight, power, and overall lifecycle cost and maximize fuel efficiency.

Bob Richards, Vice President Space, TTTech Aerospace, is responsible for TTTech’s space business: “The space sector has a visionary mission and is an extremely challenging field. Reliability and fault tolerance are key when it comes to safety-critical missions, especially those with humans on board. It is a privilege to work with our customers in the US from our Houston, TX office, and with suppliers and partners worldwide on the most exciting space programs of our time.”

Open standards for secure, reliable connectivity

TTTech Aerospace leverages synergies from many years of technology leadership and expertise in providing reliable networking technologies for the aerospace, industrial automation, mobile machines, and the energy sector.

At the heart of its solutions for the space sector is Time-Triggered Ethernet, a Deterministic Ethernet networking technology standardized in SAE AS6802 and referenced in open international standards like the International Avionics Systems Interoperability Standards (IASIS) and the European Cooperation for Space Standardization (ECSS) standard ECSS-E-ST-50-16C.

Space exploration programs are large endeavors, comprising hundreds of partners and suppliers. (Image © TTTech)

Richards says internationally recognized open technology standards are crucial for space exploration programs: “Open standards mitigate the risk for customers and ensure interoperability and scalability. NASA Artemis, for example, comprises separate programs like Orion, Gateway, or the human landing system, with hundreds of partners and suppliers from across the world working together on each. Open standards guarantee that each component can fit and connect seamlessly. Time-Triggered Ethernet is ideally suited for the modular and scalable network and system architectures in these programs, particularly for safety-critical systems that need to ensure uniform timing across all software applications running on the network.”

TTTech Aerospace provides TTEthernet® products and solutions to the space sector. TTEthernet® is a commercial implementation of Deterministic Ethernet that allows the transmission of three traffic classes based on open standards on one physical medium and with data transfer rates up to 1 Gbit/s:

  • Standard communication data: best-effort traffic according to IEEE 802.3
  • Safety-critical messages such as command and control data that require precise timing and guaranteed delivery:
    • Rate-constrained traffic according to ARINC A664 part 7
    • Time-triggered Ethernet traffic according to SAE AS6802

TTEthernet® products and solutions ensure safe, reliable data transfer thanks to precise time scheduling and enable system scalability and interoperability, as spacecraft, landing vehicles, or additional modules can be easily integrated into an existing TTEthernet® network.

Deterministic real-time communication for safety-critical systems

The Gateway’s data network securely connects all modules to each other and to spacecraft and ground stations. (Image © TTTech)

“TTEthernet®-based solutions are ideally suited for current and future deep space programs and missions, from human space flight to launchers, and satellites. Modern avionics systems need to gather and process a lot more data than their predecessors and time scheduling helps to optimize the use of available bandwidth by sending less critical data whenever the line is free in between critical messages. The Gateway will have data transmission rates of up to 1 Gbit/s, which is about 100 times higher than those currently available on the ISS. This enables the transfer of large amounts of data and enables future system extensions,” says Richards.

TTTech Aerospace’s TTEthernet® products and solutions are used in NASA Orion’s avionics system and the European Service Module (ESM), the avionics system of the European launcher Ariane 6 as well as on NASA’s Gateway.

For the first two US-built Gateway modules, the Habitation and Logistics Module (HALO) and the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), TTTech Aerospace offers networking and platform solutions together with their partner Beyond Gravity (formerly RUAG Space). These are available as “board-level” solutions i.e. commercial products and as “box-level” solutions i.e. integrated, commercial solutions including processor cards, switches, and end system cards. The compact, modular box-level solutions are designed and built together with space hardware partners and make it easy for customers to integrate them into their applications. The use of a single data network to send both safety-critical data as well as non-critical messages reduces complexity in the data network, resulting in lower weight and power consumption, as well as easier maintenance.