The habitation and logistics outpost (HALO) for NASA’s Artemis Gateway will serve as the astronauts’ temporary living quarters on their way to the moon. This will include life support systems and storage, as well as communication and docking capabilities so a reliable, robust network is absolutely critical.
Northrop Grumman and TTTech Aerospace have worked together for several years in a NASA-funded R&D program that prototyped data networks for the Gateway. These data networks were based on TTEthernet, a scalable, standards-based technology that delivers deterministic real-time communication, guaranteeing the submission of critical messages as well as standard communication data on a joint network.
The hardware for the HALO program will be designed and produced in Vienna, Austria, and are scheduled for delivery to Northrop Grumman in the coming weeks. The modular product platform provides a fault-tolerant, safety-critical data network backbone and computing platform that supports the three configurable Ethernet traffic classes: best effort traffic, rate-constrained traffic and time-triggered traffic.
TTTech is working with Ruag Space on the networking and computing platform which consists of the TTEthernet switches, TTEthernet network interface card (NIC), computing modules, software elements and network configuration tools. Several TTEthernet switch units are integrated into a standard hosting unit for a switch and fort he avionics control units which consist of a switch, NIC system and computing modules.
The TTESwitch Space 3U cPCI allows the configuration of up to 4,096 virtual links, which can be fully separated via the 8 memory partitions. Virtual links can be configured with a bandwidth allocation gap (BAG) of 0.5 ms to 1,600 ms. The configuration of the network is stored in the switch's non-volatile memory. As an option, IEEE 802.1Q VLANs can be configured. Profiled IP/UDP, redundancy management and traffic shaping are implemented in the ASIC by TTTech Aerospace used for the switch and the NIC.
This was designed for reliability and radiation resistance and has a ceramic chip housing that is hermetically and thermally sealed, so that it can endure long duration missions of 15 years. TTTech has worked with RUAG Space to integrate the ASIC into the switch and hardware.
The ASIC houses the logic, but it needs peripheral elements for communications, storage and electrical connections.
RUAG Space builds a hosting unit that can hold four modules (switches or NICs) with the electrical connections. The system designer can then set up a redundant TTEthernet network with several LANs and electric circuits, so no data is lost. The housing was developed specifically for the 3U cPCI form factor so it can be configured in a modular way as well as extended.
The TTEthernet NIC weighs 400g and supports gigabit Ethernet with synchronized and non-synchronized functions in the same Ethernet network. System-critical real-time functions have reserved bandwidth with full determinism and delivery jitter below 1μs. The network can transfer high data rates of non-critical data at the same time with no impact on critical traffic. This is achieved by a combination of SAE AS6802 time-triggered, rate-constrained and IEEE 802.3 Ethernet. The end system has an internal frame memory of 512Kbits to buffer incoming traffic.
TTEthernet has been established as the International Avionics System Interoperability Standards (IASIS) by NASA and its space agency partners and serves as the primary data network for the entire Gateway, as well as connecting to new modules as they are delivered.
“TTTech Aerospace is very excited to work with Northrop Grumman and to support the Gateway and NASA’s Artemis program. The space sector has a visionary mission and is an extremely challenging field. Reliability and fault-tolerance are key when it comes to safety-critical missions with humans on board. TTTech Aerospace and its space products design and manufacturing partner RUAG Space have already supplied space products for a variety of international programs. Together, our expert teams work with Northrop Grumman to implement the TTEthernet data network in HALO,” says Bob Richards, Vice President Space, TTTech North America.
“Bringing humans to the moon is a highly exciting mission, and space electronics is key to enable that. An astronaut many thousands of kilometers away from earth needs to rely on solutions providing maximum safety and security. Together with TTTech we can provide exactly this – the most reliable data network platform for outer space”, says Anders Linder, Senior Vice President Electronics at RUAG Space.
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