Alternative Network Architectures for Supporting Communications from the International Space Station

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2002

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In order to support the communications needs of the International Space Station (ISS), alternative communications architectures to provide broadband support need to be considered. We address three communications options and evaluate an architecture for the direct to ground option, which could serve as an intermediary solution to satisfy near term communications needs of commercial experiments and payloads on the ISS and overcome certain limitations of the current ISS communications infrastructure. We focus on a particular user requirements, and examine the system communications links, and coverage availability. These parameters, along with high-level cost estimates, are compared to using commercial relay satellites, and an enhanced TDRSS. The direct to ground option is viable for store-and-forward applications and cost comparable to commercial constellations, but TDRSS is the choice for real-time or continuous data applications.

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