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Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN)

Exploration, enabled.

The Space Communications and Spectrum Management Office at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio manages the planning, formulation, implementation, and integration of technology projects and communication system analysis capabilities supporting NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) capabilities. SCaN serves as the headquarters Program Office for all NASA’s space communications activities, including ground based facilities and services, and is responsible for the development of space communications and navigation technology.

NASA’s requirements for access to the radio frequency spectrum began with the formation of the agency in 1958 and have evolved and grown over the decades to include a wide array of programs and applications. Spectrum Management is an agency-wide function performed by NASA Glenn Research Center that includes both domestic and international coordination and protection of spectrum used for communications and passive sensing. This function involves the development and execution of spectrum policy and relevant analysis functions.

Glenn Research Center performs technology development for a wide range of SCaN capabilities. The 2023 catalog of active technology projects includes:

    • Cognitive Communications – Autonomy and resiliency techniques applicable to space communication links, networks, and provider scheduling
    • High Delay Rate Tolerant Networking (HDTN) – High rate delay- and disruption-tolerant networking capabilities for in-space communications relays and user terminals
    • Lunar LTE Studies – Metrology and analysis in support of integrating terrestrial LTE communication for use in the lunar environment
    • Quantum Communications – Metrology and development of multiple quantum communication techniques, including quantum memory
    • RealTOR – A high-rate, real-time optical communication receiver capability for ground implementation
    • SKOUT – An Active Phased Array antenna for near-earth Ka-band communications
    • Wideband – A key enabling technology for NASA’s transition to commercial services. These multi-waveform communication terminals allow for roaming across multiple commercial and government satellite networks, reducing risk, increasing resilience, and aiding in the creation of a future SATCOM marketplace.

More information on some of these technology projects can be found below.

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