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High-Rate Delay Tolerant Networking (HDTN) User Guide Version 1.0Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN) has been identified as a key technology to enable and facilitate the development and growth of future space networks. Classically, space communications networks are collections of disparate links that are manually managed either point-to-point or use space relays. The accelerating accessibility of space enables a new scaling of space nodes, yet both the manual management of configurations and scheduling and the lack of structure connecting links precisely prohibit scaling. This challenge gives rise to newer and larger classes of communications needs that are met by DTN, which must overcome the disconnection, disruption, latency, and mobility featured in space communications systems.

DTN joins the underlying links as an overlay, and can be made to communicate over any protocol stack. The core actions of DTN are store, carry, and forward, where data are stored instead of dropped if there is no immediately available outduct. It does this by taking the DTN unit of data, bundles, and providing necessary layers to adapt these bundles to the underlying transport protocols of choice; these are called convergence layers. DTN's Bundle Protocol (BP) can then be used on top of terrestrial protocol stacks, such as TCP/IP, as well as protocols for space, such as LTP/AOS, all in the same network. For emphasis it is noted that bundles can be of essentially any size, and hence this convergence to lower layers of choice is necessary.

Existing DTN implementations have operated in constrained environments with limited resources, resulting in low data speeds. However, as various technologies have advanced, data transfer rates and efficiency have advanced, which has pushed the need for a DTN implementation for ground systems and for spacecraft that is performance-oriented in order to not impose an unnecessary bottleneck.

High-rate Delay Tolerant Networking (HDTN) takes advantage of modern hardware platforms to substantially reduce latency and improve throughput compared to today’s DTN operations. The HDTN implementation maintains interoperability with existing deployments of DTN that conform to IETF RFCs 4838, 5050, and 9171. At the same time, HDTN defines a new data format better suited to higher-rate operation. It defines and adopts a massively parallel pipelined and message-oriented architecture, allowing the system to scale gracefully as its resources increase. HDTN’s architecture also supports hooks to replace various processing pipeline elements with specialized hardware accelerators. This offers improved Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) characteristics while reducing development complexity and cost.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Blake LaFuente
(Glenn Research Center Cleveland, Ohio, United States)
Stephanie Booth
(Glenn Research Center Cleveland, Ohio, United States)
Rachel Dudukovich
(Glenn Research Center Cleveland, Ohio, United States)
Nadia Kortas
(Glenn Research Center Cleveland, Ohio, United States)
Ethan Schweinsberg
(Glenn Research Center Cleveland, Ohio, United States)
Brian Tomko
(Glenn Research Center Cleveland, Ohio, United States)
Date Acquired
January 18, 2023
Publication Date
April 1, 2023
Subject Category
Space Communications, Spacecraft Communications, Command and Tracking
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: 278371.01.06
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
Technical Review
Single Expert
Delay Tolerant Networking
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