An implementation of Software Defined Radios for federated aerospace networks: Informing satellite implementations using an inter-balloon communications experiment

Rustam Akhtyamov, Ignasi Lluch I. Cruz, Hripsime Matevosyan, Dominik Knoll, Udrivolf Pica, Marco Lisi, Alessandro Golkar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Novel space mission concepts such as Federated Satellite Systems promise to enhance sustainability, robustness, and reliability of current missions by means of in-orbit sharing of space assets. This new paradigm requires the utilization of several technologies in order to confer flexibility and re-configurability to communications systems among heterogeneous spacecrafts. This paper illustrates the results of the experimental demonstration of the value proposition of federated satellites through two stratospheric balloons interoperating with a tracking ground station through Commercial Off-The-Shelf Software Defined Radios (SDRs). The paper reports telemetry analysis and characterizes the communications network that was realized in-flight. Furthermore, it provides details on an in-flight anomaly experienced by one of the balloons, which was recovered through the use of the federated technology that has been developed. The anomaly experienced led to the early loss of the directional link from the ground station to the affected stratospheric balloon node after 15 min in flight. Nevertheless, thanks to the federated approach among the systems, the ground station was still able to retrieve the balloon's data in real time through the network system, for which the other balloon operated as a federated relay for 45 min in flight, uninterrupted. In other words, the federated approach to the system allowed triplicating the useful lifetime of the defective system, which would have not been possible to realize otherwise. Such anomaly coincidentally demonstrated the value of the federated approach to space systems design. The paper paves the way for future tests on space assets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-478
Number of pages9
JournalActa Astronautica
Volume123
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

Keywords

  • Balloon communications
  • Federated Satellites
  • Inter-balloon links
  • Software defined radio
  • Stratospheric balloons

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