Air Force seeks space router
- By Michael Hardy
- Jan 13, 2005
Northrop Grumman and Caspian Networks are collaborating to develop an Internet Protocol router that can withstand the constant barrage of solar radiation in orbit. The space-hardened IP router will be part of the Air Force's Transformational Satellite Communications System, which will provide IP-based communications to warfighters.
The goal of TSAT is to give military personnel secure access to the Global Information Grid, a government-only broadband networks. The project is part of the network-centric warfare concept.
Solar radiation is the biggest threat to hardware in space, said Stuart Linsky, Northrop Grumman's program manager for transformational communication.
"On the ground, the atmosphere protects us from a lot of the radiation from the sun," he said. "In space that's not the case."
"Another difficulty that you're faced with is that you're very severely bandwidth limited," said Brad Wurtz, president and chief executive officer at Caspian. "You have limited amounts of the size of traffic that you can move through the switch or router."
Caspian has already developed a "flow state router," which is able to work with entire messages rather than individual data packets. Because of that capability, it can allow messages to be prioritized, delivering lower priority ones only after more important ones have gone through, Wurtz said.
The developers intend for the router to be upgradeable from the ground. As new iterations of the Internet Protocol are released and adopted, the router can be kept current.
The project is now in the risk reduction and system definition phase, Linsky said. The Air Force plans to launch the system on a satellite in 2012.
"We will be demonstrating this technology in the middle of '06," Linsky said. "Once we show that it is ready, then we will move into a final production phase."