Mesh networking being tested in Earth orbit

Lockheed Martin Australia Pty Ltd

By Jonathan Nally
Friday, 17 January, 2020

Mesh networking being tested in Earth orbit

A Lockheed Martin payload carried aboard a Tyvak 6U nanosat spacecraft is testing cloud networking and advanced satellite communications in Earth orbit.

The company self-funded the research project — known as Pony Express 1 — which was prototyped, developed, built and integrated into the satellite bus in just nine months.

The technologies under test fit into a space the size of a shoebox, and include:

  • a software-defined radio that enables high-bandwidth hosting of multiple RF applications, store-and-forward RF collection, data compression, digital signal processing and waveform transmission;
  • HiveStar software that validates adaptive mesh communications between satellites;
  • a 3D-printed wideband antenna housing developed by Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Research Technology Center.

“Early on-orbit data show Pony Express 1 is performing its important pathfinding mission very well,” said Rick Ambrose, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Space.

“This is the first of several rapid, self-funded experiments demonstrating our ability to systematically accelerate our customers’ speed to mission while reducing risk from new technologies.”

Pony Express 1 will be followed by Pony Express 2, which will further test cloud networking concepts among satellites and validate Lockheed Martin’s SmartSat software-defined satellite architecture.

Image courtesy Tyvak

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