TSAT laser communications development passes crucial milestone

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. 5 April 2006. Laser communications experts from two U.S. defense contractors have taken the next step in their development of the future space-based military Internet called the Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT).

Apr 5th, 2006

B>REDONDO BEACH, Calif. 5 April 2006. Laser communications experts from two U.S. defense contractors have taken the next step in their development of the future space-based military Internet called the Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT).

The contractor team of Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif., and the Northrop Grumman Space Technology sector in Redondo Beach, Calif., demonstrated the interoperability of a new fast data communications protected waveform in the initial test of the Next Generation Processor/Router (NGPR) -- the brain of future Internet protocol-based military satellite communications TSAT.

The test of the Northrop Grumman NGPR was done against the TSAT RF Universal System Test Terminal at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2.

This initial compatibility test, NGPR-1, verified compliance with key aspects of the U.S. government's compatibility standards for the XDR+ waveform, a secure, protected, anti-jamming waveform for TSAT ground-to-satellite uplinks and downlinks.

The tests measured the compatibility of XDR+ as well as increased bandwidth efficiency to transfer more information in the same transmitted signal bandwidth. Northrop Grumman's NGPR operated at full-flight data rates established for TSAT.

XDR+ waveforms represent an advancement of the XDR waveform used on the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) satellite system. It meets the high-throughput requirements of TSAT, which uses radio frequency and laser communications to provide secure, efficient, global communications for warfighters.

The NGPR takes the information transmitted through military user terminals, determines where the information needs to go, and selects the most efficient route based on standard commercial network design principles.

"The success of the NGPR-1 test is yet another important milestone in risk reduction for the TSAT program," notes Stuart Linsky, Northrop Grumman's vice president, Satellite Communications. "Our ability to successfully complete this test reflects our continuing track record of success in developing generations of sophisticated processors for MILSATCOM systems, including Milstar and Advanced EHF."

In addition to meeting planned objectives for NGPR-1, Northrop Grumman performed additional risk-reduction tests on features for the next test, NGPR-2, which will include waveform and networking capabilities. T

he NGPR is a critical component of TSAT, an Internet protocol-based system to provide military protected high-bandwidth communications, as well as communications-on-the-move capabilities. TSAT will network mobile warfighters, sensors, weapons and piloted aircraft in the air, on the ground, at sea and in space.

"The successful test represents an important step in our effort to advance breakthrough technologies needed for TSAT," said Rick Skinner, vice president, Transformational Communications for Lockheed Martin. "We look forward to continuing our work to provide the Air Force with a revolutionary system that will deliver extraordinary communications capabilities for our men and women in uniform."

The Lockheed Martin / Northrop Grumman TSAT space segment team, which includes ViaSat, Rockwell Collins, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, L-3 Communications, Stratogis and Caspian Networks, is under a $514 million contract for the Risk Reduction and System Definition phase. This effort will culminate with a multi-billion dollar development contract to be awarded to a single contractor in 2008.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor, while Northrop Grumman Space Technology has responsibility for the communications payload, including laser and radio-frequency communications and on-board processing. The U.S. Air Force is managing the program at the MILSATCOM Joint Program Office, located at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.

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