ITTC Project

Architecture for Space Based Internets [SBI]

Project Award Date: 08-01-2000


This three-year NASA project is an extension of ITTC's longstanding work and reputation in the area of Rapidly Deployable Radio Networks (RDRN). The techniques and data ITTC researchers gleaned from this wireless, high-speed communication system for moving military units in the field will now be applied to satellites orbiting in space.

A space-based Internet (SBI) might suggest email traffic from Darth Vader or ET, but SBI focuses on reality not fantasy. An Internet system will become part of the standard infrastructure of future satellites, and this project's goal is to learn through emulation how that system will operate. On Earth, the ever-growing Internet is reliable, robust, adaptable, and reprogrammableattributes that make SBI a desirable communication option in space.

Communicating with satellites now requires detailed and time-consuming scheduling. Transmissions must be timed to when a satellite will pass over a particular area, and satellite downtime disrupts the schedules and may interrupt communications for long periods of time.

In comparison, the Internet on land flexes with disruptions and breakdowns by rerouting data along other pathways. With Internet protocols (IP) in space, satellites could originate or terminate traffic andmost importantlycould reroute traffic traveling between other satellites and the ground.

On a mission to Mars, for example, where many satellites orbit the red planet gathering data and photos, SBI would enable communication between the satellites and between the satellites and Earth. Using IP, the satellites could easily form a local service network related to the Mars orbit.

"To achieve a SBI," says Evans, "each observation satellite would carry a communication system with several channels or beamseither high-speed radio frequency or optical laser to form a high-speed pathand a network control processor to switch traffic between the several communications channels and local payload."

The team will research the design, development, and initial prototype implementation of the architecture for SBI and evaluate it on an emulation testbed. This testbed will use actual network software, application programs, and scenarios and will incorporate satellite orbital mechanics into its emulation-based system.


Faculty Investigator(s): Gary Minden (PI), Joseph Evans

Student Investigator(s): Sujit Rupert Baliga, Sandhya Rallapalli

Project Sponsors

Primary Sponsor(s): NASA

Partner with ITTC

The Information and Telecommunication Technology Center at the University of Kansas has developed several assistance policies that enhance interactions between the Center and local, Kansas, or national companies. 

ITTC assistance includes initial free consulting (normally one to five hours). If additional support is needed, ITTC will offer one of the following approaches: 

Sponsored Research Agreement

Individuals and organizations can enter into agreements with KUCR/ITTC and provide funds for sponsored research to be performed at ITTC with the assistance of faculty, staff and students.

Licensing and Royalty/Equity Agreement

An ITTC goal is the development of investment-grade technologies for transfer to, and marketing by, local, Kansas, and national businesses. To enhance this process, the Center has developed flexible policies that allow for licensing, royalty, and equity arrangements to meet both the needs of ITTC and the company.

Commercialization Development

Companies with a technology need that can be satisfied with ITTC's resources can look to us for assistance. We can develop a relationship with interested partners that will provide for the development of a technology suited for commercialization.

ITTC Resource Access

ITTC resources, including computers and software systems, may be made available to Kansas companies in accordance with the Center's mission and applicable Regents and University policies.

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