MAXIMIZING DATA DOWNLOAD CAPABILITIES FOR FUTURE CONSTELLATION SPACE MISSIONS

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2004-07-27

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We outline the first step toward the development of a unified space communication network approach, offering more flexibility, robustness, expandability and compatibility with terrestrial networks. The aim is to maximize the data download capabilities of future missions while reducing the development and operational costs. We introduce the current State-of-the-Art in space communications, present the benefits of a unified approach and discuss some challenges that need to be addressed to enable this transition. We focus on developing a suitable dynamic routing algorithm and a reconfigurable simulation framework. A case study on the Magnetospheric Multi-Scale constellation mission shows that both NASAs Deep Space Network and some commercial ground facilities can provide sufficient coverage for this mission and demonstrates the benefits of a unified space network. We also demonstrate the usefulness of a modular simulation framework as a low-cost but powerful tool for evaluating the performance of protocols and architectures in this environment.

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