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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center awards technology demo contract to SpaceLink

US company SpaceLink, which provides secure data relay from any orbit at any time, has announced it was awarded a contract by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) to study how commercial optical ground terminals will integrate into NASA’s Near Space Network. The funded study includes a demonstration of end-to-end transport of multi-source data at the SpaceLink gateway in the Mojave Desert. SpaceLink is a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian company Electro Optic Systems (EOS).

SpaceLink is creating a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRSS)-like capability in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), to significantly increase signal and data throughput, provide persistent links to space-borne assets, and securely deliver data in real-time. It is well-positioned as a resource to support NASA’s transition towards commercial services for Direct to Earth communications and Space Relay.

“Developing our data transport system has pushed the SpaceLink architecture team to optimize across space, ground, client, and network segments, and to address challenges associated with optical high-capacity data delivery solutions,” said Rob Singh, SpaceLink Chief Technology Officer. “SpaceLink is excited to explore innovative solutions that can help inform and guide NASA towards the successful commercialization of the Near Space Network services.”

As part of the study, SpaceLink will identify the barriers, challenges, and solutions associated with integration of optical communications ground terminals into the Near Space Network architecture. The technical demonstration consists of an end-to-end test of multi-source data moving from SpaceLink’s Mojave Gateway facility to NASA’s terrestrial network using Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure.

SpaceLink previously selected the Mojave Air & Space Port at Rutan Field in California as the location for its primary Gateway in the United States. Its RF and optical terminals will be built on a five-acre parcel with redundant high-capacity fibre backhaul to densely interconnected data centers (Carrier Hotels) in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The company is building a constellation of relay satellites in MEO that use optical intersatellite links to speed communications between spacecraft on orbit and users on the ground. The SpaceLink network is designed to relieve congestion caused by increased human spaceflight missions and proliferated LEO constellations. SpaceLink was recently awarded a contract by DARPA to participate in its Space-BACN  program and has also entered into a Research and Development Agreement with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Technical Center.

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