National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center


Open Architecture Development and Concept Formulation: 2002 – 2005

  • Develop common, open standard architecture for space-based software defined radio (SDR) known as Space Telecommunications Radio Architecture (STRS). Allow reconfigurable communication and navigation functions implemented in software to provide capability to change radio use during mission or after launch.
  • NASA Multi-Center SDR Architecture Team formed.

SDR Technology Development: 2005 – 2007

  • Development of design tools and validation test beds.
  • Development of design reference implementations and waveform components.
  • Establish SDR Technology Validation Laboratory at GRC.
  • NASA/Industry Workshops conducted.

Flight Technology Demonstration: 2008 – 2013

  • Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Testbed project, previously known as Communications, Navigation and Networking re-Configurable Testbed (CoNNeCT) project, established to perform system prototype demonstration in relevant environment (TRL-7).  The SCaN Testbed is an experimental communications system that provides the capability for S‑Band, Ka-Band, and L-Band communication with space and ground assets.  Investigation of SDR technology and the STRS architecture are the primary focus of the SCaN Testbed.  As a completely reconfigurable testbed, the SCaN Testbed provides experimenters an opportunity to develop and demonstrate experimental waveforms and applications for communication, networking, and navigation concepts and to advance the understanding of operating SDRs in space.  For more information, see Digital Communications & Navigation Branch web page and NASA Home>Missions>International Space Station>Research>Experiments and GRC Space Operations Project Office.
  • The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched its third H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-3) “Kounotori-3” containing the SCaN testbed to the International Space Station. The unmanned spacecraft lifted off atop a Japanese H-IIB rocket on Friday, July 20, 2012 at 10:06 p.m. EDT (0206 GMT July 21) from the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. Japan’s HTV 3 cargo ship docked with the ISS on Jul 27 to provide an on-orbit, adaptable software defined radio facility with corresponding ground and operational systems. The SCaN Testbed began its initial checkout activities on the space station August 13, 2012.
  • The SCaN Testbed has three unique software defined radios (SDRs) provided by government and industry partners. All of the radios are compliant with the NASA Space Telecommunications Radio System (STRS) Architecture Standard v1.02.1 and are capable of supporting networking, navigation, time transfer, file management, and data analysis.
    • The General Dynamics (GD) SDR leverages developments of the TDRSS fourth-generation transponder and is capable of S-band communications.
    • The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) SDR leverages off the developments of the Electra radio. This SDR is capable of S-band communications and receive-only GPS L-band navigation.
    • The Harris Corporation (HC) SDR is capable of Ka-band communications.