REDONDO BEACH, Calif., 5 March 2009. Northrop Grumman Corp. in Redondo Beach, Calif., is developing a radiation-hardened wireless electrical satellite avionics bus under a $4.1 million contract from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.
A spacecraft data bus serves as the electrical interface between the spacecraft's equipment and payloads in space avionics design.
Northrop Grumman will develop wireless data bus interface satellite avionics that enhances AFRL's electronics architecture for spacecraft called Space Plug-n-Play Avionics or SPA. These electronics have automatic device recognition and fault detection to enable addition and removal of equipment without software or database changes.
The development challenge is to create hardware elements for managing messages and directing communication traffic in an RF-rich micro-environment with hundreds of wireless devices.
The initial phase will conclude with a wireless standard, such as Bluetooth, and will establish protocols, design implementation guidelines, and address spacecraft unique features such as security, reliability, and electromagnetic emissions management.
Called SPA - Wireless, the interface communication system will upgrade commercial wireless technology for internal spacecraft use. Upgraded space wireless devices will allow new capabilities for spacecraft to:
- locate and track parts through assembly, integration and rework;
- detect when tools and assembly aids are inside the spacecraft;
- automatically assess the connectivity health of a delivered component; and
- ease reconfiguration and self-examination using commercial off-the-shelf wireless equipment.