Technology Development & Applications (2010)

Cisco Systems Internet Router in Space

In the for-profit sector, SSPI honors Cisco Systems for developing and placing into operation a hosted satellite payload offering the ability to route IP traffic on the satellite, which eliminates the need to send the data to and from an extra ground station to implement the circuit-switched function.  Routing IP traffic on the satellite with the router’s built-in software can increase throughput, reduce latency and enable flexible bandwidth-on-demand applications between users in different geographic regions without static configuration.  The IRIS payload provides dynamic routing to multiple ground receivers in a single step, increasing transponder utilization, and efficiently provides cross-band, cross-beam connectivity.  It regenerates the signal while processing, which permits a reduction in the size of sending and receiving terminals.  With dynamic bandwidth allocation, it offers more efficient link budgets for small terminals.  IRIS provides an end-to-end IP service leveraging open standards that allows faster integration and converges with the US government’s service-oriented-architecture approach.      

This technical innovation, if implemented across fleets and beams, will result in enhanced cross-platform communications.  For instance, in cases of disaster recovery, often first-responders are unable to efficiently cross-communicate because of system differences.  The IRIS technology bypasses platform differences for direct and immediate communications.       

SSPI also acknowledges that the IRIS payload offers proof-of-concept for the hosted payload approach to deploying government communications capability aboard commercial satellites.  As such, it establishes a new model of collaboration between government customers and commercial operators of satellite fleets.  The payload will transition to commercial use after the three-month Department of Defense Joint Technology Capability Demonstration ends in April 2010. 


NASA Innovations in Space Communications and Robotic Operations Related to the Deep Space Network, Mars Exploration and the Hubble Space Telescope

In the non-profit sector, SSPI honors the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for innovations in deep space communications and robotics in support of Mars exploration programs and the reconditioned Hubble Space Telescope.  Through improved cryogenic amplifiers and advanced electronics, the Deep Space Network now allows NASA to relay many gigabytes of video imaging and scientific data from the Mars rovers across two hundred million kilometers of space.  This capacity supports not only the rovers on the Martian surface but the innovative Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey spacecraft.  These state of the art communications systems – both on Earth and in space – have contributed to a new level of understanding of Earth’s sister planet and its surface makeup, its atmosphere and its potential for sustaining life.     

SSPI also recognizes the spectacular improvement in performance of the reconditioned Hubble Space Telescope through an augmented gyro, remote positioning system, robotics control system and communications system.  The latest images from Hubble allow humanity to see light generated 13 billion years ago, when the universe was only 600 million years old, with new clarity and precision.      

The commercial satellite industry has benefited for generations from innovations introduced by NASA, from the three-axis stabilization system for spacecraft to the numerous technologies introduced by the ACT experimental satellite.  SSPI believes that the latest control, positioning, robotic and telecommunications technologies introduced by NASA are likely to benefit the development of the commercial satellite industry for decades to come.

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