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SCaN Testbed Update

SCaN Testbed (STB) led groundbreaking efforts to champion use of software defined radios for space communications. STB demonstrated routine reconfiguration of radios in space 888 times, challenging the perception that even a single reconfiguration was a significant mission risk. STB demonstrated the first Ka-band full duplex space transceiver, which is a R&D 100 award winning technology and now a successful commercial product line. This enabled STB to validate Ka-band performance of NASA’s TDRS satellites K, L, and M, as well as test many communication system upgrades on the ground for projects such as User Service Subsystem Component Replacement (USS-CR) and Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS). STB also developed and contributed 6 radio waveforms, or reusable software components, to the Space Telecommunications Radio System (STRS) repository, allowing future missions seamless reuse of prior software investments.

SCaN Testbed paved the way for many firsts in communication and navigation technology. STB was the first to receive the Global Positioning System (GPS) Civil Navigation Message (CNAV) in space in June 2013. In 2018, STB became the first in-space user of the European Galileo E5A navigation signal, demonstrating the capability for merging Galileo and GPS to precisely determine orbits of spacecraft. The Testbed performed revolutionary study into cognitive communication techniques in 2015, demonstrating the ability for real-time adaptive link control; in 2018, it performed the first-ever demonstration of an adaptive space link controlled entirely by an artificial intelligence algorithm. These experiments enabled demonstrations of automatic communication service scheduling, or User Initiated Service, which allowed STB to request high-rate communications services in near real time, a significant improvement over the prior 3+ week turnaround time.

The decommissioning of SCaN Testbed comes after 7 successful years and 4275 hours of pioneering accomplishments in the field of space communications. STB’s accomplishments have increased the trust that missions place in software defined radio technology, as well as show cased multiple mission use cases for the benefits of radio reconfiguration in space.

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