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Unique Challenges Testing SDRs for SpaceThis paper describes the approach used by the Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN) Testbed team to qualify three Software Defined Radios (SDR) for operation in space and the characterization of the platform to enable upgrades on-orbit. The three SDRs represent a significant portion of the new technologies being studied on board the SCAN Testbed, which is operating on an external truss on the International Space Station (ISS). The SCaN Testbed provides experimenters an opportunity to develop and demonstrate experimental waveforms and applications for communication, networking, and navigation concepts and advance the understanding of developing and operating SDRs in space. Qualifying a Software Defined Radio for the space environment requires additional consideration versus a hardware radio. Tests that incorporate characterization of the platform to provide information necessary for future waveforms, which might exercise extended capabilities of the hardware, are needed. The development life cycle for the radio follows the software development life cycle, where changes can be incorporated at various stages of development and test. It also enables flexibility to be added with minor additional effort. Although this provides tremendous advantages, managing the complexity inherent in a software implementation requires a testing beyond the traditional hardware radio test plan. Due to schedule and resource limitations and parallel development activities, the subsystem testing of the SDRs at the vendor sites was primarily limited to typical fixed transceiver type of testing. NASA s Glenn Research Center (GRC) was responsible for the integration and testing of the SDRs into the SCaN Testbed system and conducting the investigation of the SDR to advance the technology to be accepted by missions. This paper will describe the unique tests that were conducted at both the subsystem and system level, including environmental testing, and present results. For example, test waveforms were developed to measure the gain of the transmit system across the tunable frequency band. These were used during thermal vacuum testing to enable characterization of the integrated system in the wide operational temperature range of space. Receive power indicators were used for Electromagnetic Interference tests (EMI) to understand the platform s susceptibility to external interferers independent of the waveform. Additional approaches and lessons learned during the SCaN Testbed subsystem and system level testing will be discussed that may help future SDR integrators
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Chelmins, David
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Downey, Joseph A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Johnson, Sandra K.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Nappier, Jennifer M.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 27, 2013
Publication Date
March 3, 2013
Subject Category
Space Communications, Spacecraft Communications, Command And Tracking
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
2013 IEEE Aerospace Conference(Big Sky, MT)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 553323.
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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