European Time-Triggered Ethernet standard for space applications

European Time-Triggered Ethernet standard for space applications

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

A group of European companies has developed an open standard for time triggered Ethernet in space applications.

The European Cooperation for Space Standardization (ECSS) standard ECSS-E-ST-50-16C was developed over the last six year with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and other major European Space Industry representatives, especially ArianeGroup, Airbus Defence and Space, Thales Alenia Space, RUAG Space and TTTech Aerospace.

The standard will make it easier for companies to implement Time-Triggered Ethernet networks in their applications and TTTech Aerospace, a pioneer in time triggered Ethernet technology, has collaborated with the working group and contributed heavily to the standard.

The standard focusses on integrating Ethernet networks which rely on fault-tolerant synchronization and deterministic packet routing as described in the Time-Triggered Ethernet (SAE AS6802) standard. The ECSS Working Group collaborated to create a common set of design principles to be used for future European space activities and programs based on Time-Triggered Ethernet on-board communication, simplifying the deployment and reuse of real-time Ethernet networking in space.

The ECSS-E-ST-50-16C standard enhances the Time-Triggered Ethernet protocol (SAE AS6802) with space-specific requirements and tailors network devices configuration to promote their interoperability. TTTech Aerospace had already contributed to the SAE AS6802 protocol standardization and the Time-Sensitive Networking standardization in IEEE 802 and this key know-how was used together with the deep experience of the working group to adapt the generic SAE standard to the European space industry’s needs.

“We have been advocates for open, standardized technologies since day one and we are proud to actively contribute to several well-known standards that now benefit the space industry. ESA is one of the most significant actors in the European space sector and their support, together with major industrial partners, of the new standard is key for its success,” said Christian Fidi, Senior Vice President Business Unit Aerospace at TTTech.

“ECSS-E-ST-50-16C will ensure compatibility and interoperability between different Time-Triggered Ethernet hardware components for space applications. This is especially important for large-scale projects, such as Ariane 6 or NASA’s Gateway, where several suppliers are involved, and where all the equipment needs to be connected seamlessly,” he said.

“Open communication standards, such as ECSS-E-ST-50-16C, foster interface compatibility between communication devices and components and aim at facilitating equipment design and development as well as seamless integration and test activities. A stable and community driven standard specification reduces long-term costs, lowers operational risks for suppliers and secures both large-scale integrators and equipment suppliers investments in compatible avionics units for a long time-span,” said Marco Rovatti, Avionics and Data Handling Engineer, Electronic Department at ESA-ESTEC.

Time-Triggered Ethernet is becoming a widely accepted data networking standard in the industry and will be deployed in the avionics of NASA’s Gateway (above) and serves as single avionics data network in the European flagship launch vehicle Ariane 6.

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