SPACE

NASA taps industry to study future space comms ideas

NASA is looking to industry for studies and explorations of ideas to design future space communications systems that can support near-Earth missions in the future.

Over the next five months, eight companies will collaborate with NASA to explore concepts in an effort to evolve the agency’s current communications network into a more interoperable, extensible environment with navigation capabilities included.

The combined funding for the studies is nearly $4 million, but is another example of how federal agencies are starting out some innovation efforts with smaller procurements that incorporate not just studies, but data challenges and experiments early on before a larger contract is competed.

Selected companies for the “Space Communications and Navigation” program are:

  • Atlas Space Operations
  • Boeing
  • Eutelsat America
  • General Dynamics’ mission systems segment
  • Intelsat General
  • Maxar Technologies
  • Northrop Grumman
  • SpaceX

Through this so-called “SCaN” endeavor, companies will provide information on current or future planned commercial space communication and navigation architectures that include satellites, ground systems and services to support potential missions to the Moon.

NASA first sent a call out for proposals in September 2018 and identified study topic areas such as partnership approach, commercial radio frequency, optical space communication services, service provider interoperability, concepts of operations, transition plans and validations, internetworking, secure data processing, payload requirements and user terminal interoperability.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also find and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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