NASA's Space Network Update Enters Next Phase - InformationWeek
Government // Leadership
12:41 PM
[Dark Reading Crash Course] Finding & Fixing Application Security Vulnerabilitie
Sep 14, 2017
Hear from a top applications security expert as he discusses key practices for scanning and securi ...Read More>>

NASA's Space Network Update Enters Next Phase

Agency plans to install next-generation architecture in satellite ground stations to replace outdated systems.

NASA's Next Mission: Deep Space
NASA's Next Mission: Deep Space
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
NASA has started a new phase in its effort to modernize the terrestrial segment of a decades-old space communications network. The update should simplify future expansion and increase the rate of data transferred from ground terminals into space.

The Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SNGSS) effort has passed a key review that allows NASA to move forward with a new phase of its design and planning, according to the agency.

SNGSS and Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS) comprise NASA’s Space Network, which provides global space-to-ground telecommunications for NASA’s low-earth orbit and near-earth spaceflight missions.

The SNGSS project will provide a next-generation space communications ground terminal to sustain the network, which has been in place since the 1980s and is comprised of legacy hardware and software that’s becoming difficult and expensive to maintain, according to NASA. These systems also pose a risk to network reliability, which is crucial to NASA’s future space flight plans. The last time the agency refurbished its space network was in the mid-1990s.

[ NASA has released an online atlas with images of more than half a trillion objects throughout the universe. Read about it at NASA Releases Atlas Of Entire Sky. ]

The successful completion of the review--officially called Key Decision Point B--allows the current modernization project to enter Phase B, the Mission Definition Phase. During this phase, NASA and project contractor General Dynamics C4S will finalize designs and begin system implementation, said David Jacintho, SGSS Deputy Project Manager for Resources at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

"In this next phase, we will begin to develop the system moving forward through critical design," Jacintho said in a press statement. "Once operational, the system will provide state-of-the-practice technologies and services to users of NASA's national resource for decades to come."

The SNGSS project will install a new, more scalable architecture in each ground terminal that connects to the TDRS. The update will simplify future technology refreshes and expansions to the network as well as increase the rate of data transfer for communications that use it. It will also cut overall maintenance costs, according to NASA.

The new architecture will be installed in three existing Space Network ground terminals at NASA’s White Sands Complex in New Mexico and in Guam. NASA expects the project to be complete and the new system to be fully operational by the end of 2016.

Attend InformationWeek's IT Government Leadership Forum, a day-long venue where senior IT leaders in government come together to discuss how they're using technology to drive change in federal departments and agencies. It happens in Washington, D.C., May 3.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Andrew Hornback
Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/1/2012 | 2:38:27 AM
re: NASA's Space Network Update Enters Next Phase
As a big fan of NASA (have been since I was old enough understand what their mission was, and that's been a few decades now), I'm glad to see this.

Given the expansion of our sensing capabilities to take data from sensors already on station in orbit and the future needs, the communications needs of our space program really needed to be upgraded and it's nice to see that taking place.

Now if we can only get things on track regarding new launch vehicles and missions to take advantage of the technological upgrades...

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll