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OMG developing new standard for interface for Software Defined Radios
by Staff Writers
Needham MA (SPX) Oct 30, 2019

File image of soldiers in the field using portable Software Defined Radios

International technology standards organization Object Management Group (OMG) announced it is creating a new standard, through issuance of a request for proposal (RFP) for the Platform Space Telecommunications Interface (STI) for Software Defined Radios (SDRs). The objective of the RFP is to expand the Software Radio Components Specification to support future space communications.

"For space missions, Software Defined Radio (SDR) systems are deployed in environmental conditions that require unique provisions in order to accommodate such communication services as new frequencies, latencies, data rates and dynamic reconfiguration of components," said Jeff Smith, Co-chair of the OMG Analysis and Design Platform Task Force and Chief Systems Engineer at Sierra Nevada Corporation supporting the Multi-Agency Collaboration Environment (MACE).

"The expanded space communication specification will support the ability to collect and provide voice, video, data and networking signals to process and share communications throughout the spectrum agnostically. It will also support a networking layer and standardized interfaces for interacting with networks that support cross-platform security measures."

Responses to this RFP are intended to address the following issues associated with space communications:

+ Radiation Suitable Processing: The use of radiation capable processors limits both the footprint and complexity of the infrastructure.

+ Spacecraft Resource Constraints: Each mission has specific allowances for the resources a radio can consume such as, real-time performance, mission classes (high-capacity), network, reconfigurability and reprogrammability. Overhead for supporting an open architecture must be balanced against these spacecraft constraints.

+ Reliability (fault tolerance, guaranteed delivery) and Availability: Reliability is of paramount importance to space radios in both manned and unmanned missions. For example, if communication to a satellite is lost, the ability to command and control the satellite is also lost.

+ Specialized Signal Processing Abstraction: The architecture should support the abstraction of the platforms that waveforms are deployed on so they are able to execute on a variety of different specialized signal processor elements including Digital Signal Processors (DSPs), FPGAs, and Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs).

+ Static Deployment: The hardware resources assigned to the radio platform onboard the spacecraft are fixed and verifiable, and rarely will be changed. Waveforms may change operating parameters, due to commands from the flight computer, or autonomously, due to waveform input signal levels or other predetermined conditions.

+ Long Mission Development Times: The development time of the radios is often much longer compared to their commercial equivalents. This often leads to requirements creep. The ability to make software changes aids in the ability to make any late enhancements before the radio has been launched. The SDR enables more efficient change management.

+ Space Waveforms: The waveforms that are used for these applications often are unique to the space environment. For example, NASA utilizes a selected set of waveforms that correspond to frequency allocations and existing space assets.

+ Small Space Market: The number of radios built for space use is much lower than most terrestrial markets. The cost to develop and maintain the open architecture must be in proportion to the overall market. It is anticipated that this specification will be size agnostic and capable of being utilized on CubeSats.\

Both members and non-members of OMG may show their interest in participating in the creation of the Space Telecommunications Interface for Software Defined Radios specification process by submitting a Letter of Intent by January 15, 2020. In order to become a submitter, individually or as part of a submission team, companies must become members of OMG by the initial submission deadline of February 24, 2020.

Related Links
Object Management Group
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

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