The exploration of space opens the door to improvements of life on Earth, new discoveries and new research opportunities. The first humans travelled to space less than 100 years ago and human space flight has come a long way since then. Technology has improved space flight - space suits became lighter and more versatile, and spacecraft more autonomous and efficient. Yet human space flight is still one of the most challenging endeavors – the safety of the crew is paramount and must be considered at all times when developing launchers, spacecraft, space stations and human landing systems.
The human space flight sector
Technology and products for space need to withstand a harsh environment with extreme temperature differences and high radiation. Networking platforms and components installed in spacecraft, space stations and human landing systems need to have a long service life and a robust and compact design, as size and weight are crucial factors for space flight. Far away from Earth, the connection and communication of systems within the spacecraft has to work seamlessly and reliably, as does the communication between the spacecraft and ground control on Earth.
Older spacecraft and systems using the standard MIL 1553 data buses do not offer the high bandwidths that are needed for modern space applications and as separate media are required for transferring safety-critical and payload data, systems are more complex and more expensive. Next generation spacecraft, equipment and technology need to be smaller, lighter and more cost-efficient, while providing higher data rates with the same fault-tolerance and reliability.
Benefits of TTTech Aerospace’s solutions
TTTech Aerospace supports the reduction of size, weight and power (SWaP) and high data throughputs by providing modular, deterministic embedded network and platform solutions. TTTech Aerospace’s products fulfil very high quality and production standards and are qualifiable for the use in extremely harsh environments. The product portfolio ranges from ASICs, switch and end system hardware to networking and computing platforms with embedded software and also includes software tools, testing and lab equipment. Series products are available to support a wide variety of applications in human space flight (HSF) - from spacecraft to space stations and human landing systems.
TTEthernet® is a scalable, standards-based technology that delivers deterministic real-time communication and enables the transmission of safety-critical messages as well as standard communication data on one data network. It is used as the communication backbone in NASA Artemis, one of the most ambitious international human space flight programs to date that will not only bring humanity back to the surface of the Moon (including the first woman and first person of color), but also set up a permanent lunar base and extend space exploration to Mars. TTEthernet® serves as the ‘central nervous system’ in the NASA Orion spacecraft and in several modules of NASA’s Gateway.
TTTech Aerospace’s solutions for space offer:
- Reliable, qualifiable system solutions: TTTech Aerospace provides components, software and tooling, as well as complete networked computing software and hardware platforms based on Deterministic Ethernet
- Modularity and flexibility: deterministic network solutions and components enable scalable and modular system architectures and interoperability with standard Ethernet provides more flexibility in applications
- High-performance and highly efficient data transfer with bandwidths of up to 1 Gbit/s: supports applications requiring high speeds to transfer large amounts of data and also enables future system extensions.
- Safe, reliable systems: fault tolerance and fault containment implemented in hardware increase safety and keep the system operational at all times
- Mixed-criticality architectures simplify software and avionics and reduce system lifecycle costs: use of a single network for command and control, as well as payload data with three traffic classes (best-effort Ethernet acc. to IEEE 802.3, rate-constrained traffic acc. to ARINC 664 part 7 and Time-Triggered Ethernet acc. to SAE AS6802) using the same physical medium/network.
- Easier integration and reconfiguration: time synchronization implemented in hardware saves costs for dedicated software and network integration
- Use of open, Ethernet-based, international standards: TTTech Aerospace leverages synergies from many years of cross-industry experience from the aerospace, automotive, and industrial automation industries in developing new solutions for the space sector
Products and components used in space projects need to comply with all standards required for the project or application and have to be qualified for the use in the harsh environment of space, which includes wide temperature ranges and radiation. TTTech Aerospace’s products are based on and integrate the open industry standards IEEE 802.3, ARINC 664 part 7 and SAE AS6802 to allow for maximum flexibility and interoperability within large projects and programs, e.g. NASA’s Gateway. All products are qualifiable according to QMLV, the highest qualification level for integrated circuits, and comply with the open international space industry standards International Avionics System Interoperability Standards (IASIS) and ECSS-E-ST-50-16C standard for Time-Triggered Ethernet (European space engineering standard).