NASA Orion and ESA’s European Service Module (ESM) completed the first successful test flight (EFT-1) in 2014. Orion is an integral part of NASA Artemis that aims to return humans to the Moon and extend space exploration further, including to Mars. In November 2022, Artemis I sent Orion on a first uncrewed test flight for the mission on the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket built so far. The next flight – with a crew – will follow in the coming years.
TTTech Aerospace’s also provides products for the European Service Module (ESM) that supplies propulsion to the Orion capsule, as well as storing fuel, water, oxygen, and nitrogen.
"We are proud to be on board. For years, we have been working closely with our partners, providing TTEthernet® products used in Orion’s avionics system. Using a single network for safety-critical and non-critical data allows to save space, weight and power and therefore demonstrates the future of highly integrated avionics systems."
TTEthernet® - the spacecraft’s 'nervous system'
One of Orion’s most important systems is the avionics system, often described as the “central nervous systems” of the spacecraft. The avionics system consists of a wide variety of standard and complex electronics assembled into various independent systems, each responsible for performing specific safety-critical functions. TTEthernet® is at the core of this “nervous system” allowing a mixed-criticality architecture. It enables the use of one single network for critical and non-critical data with three traffic classes, i.e. best-effort, rate-constrained and time-triggered Ethernet, making it highly flexible and modular. All independent avionics sub-systems of Orion are connected with this deterministic high-performance Ethernet network. TTTech Aerospace provides TTEthernet® Switch and End System products for Orion and ESM’s avionics backbone network
"We look forward to realizing the potential of TTEthernet® technology development, which provides a high bandwidth avionics databus capability supporting future technology insertion."
TTEthernet® is a highly deterministic version of Ethernet and is fully compatible with the standard IEEE Ethernet networks found in every home and office around the world. On board of the Orion, TTEthernet® helps to connect almost 50 communication endpoints and moves data at a rate 1,000 times faster than those used on previous human-rated spacecraft (rates of up to 10/100/1000 Mbit/s). As a single network it supports all of Orion’s data transfers and communication with less mass, power, and cost than the old multi-system network approach. These savings are achieved because it is now possible for the first time to robustly integrate highly critical real-time functions like flight controls and life-support systems with lower priority data on one single physical network while guaranteeing predictable system behavior.
TTEthernet® is a standards-based technology, which means that new or additional components can be integrated into the network and tested more quickly, saving cost and time.
TTEthernet® technology: use cases in space and on earth
Apart from Orion, TTEthernet® is used in many other applications in space (e.g. Ariane 6, NASA’s Gateway), as well as various industries on earth, for example the automotive sector. TTEthernet® will further facilitate new advanced functions on board of helicopters, aircraft, air taxis, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).