NASA aims to achieve a twofold increase in the International Space Station’s data flow rates through hardware updates to the Space Network’s ground terminals.
The Space Network works to provide communications services to the ISS and uses a constellation of Tracking and Data Relay Satellites to gather data from the space station and transmit the data back to the ground terminal at White Sands test facility in New Mexico, NASA said Tuesday.
“This upgrade of both the onboard and ground data communications systems enables an increase in the scientific output from the space station,” said Mark Severance, network director of human spaceflight at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
“Increasing the data downlink rates from the station will allow the manifestation of new experiments and technology demonstrations that have higher data-rate requirements than could previously be accommodated,” Severance added.
Under the project, the space agency placed a 300 megabits per second data downlink platform at a ground terminal in Guam and will install new hardware systems at ground terminals in Guam and New Mexico to increase the data transmission rate.
The orbiting laboratory uses SN to transmit data on the space station’s systems, astronauts’ health status and science experiment results.
NASA also plans to launch the Boeing-built TDRS-M satellite in the summer of 2017 in an effort to increase SN’s network capacity.
TDRS-M will take off aboard a United Launch Alliance-made Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida and will be renamed after it completes a series of on-orbit tests within six months.