The history of spaceflight started already quite a while ago at the early 20th century inspired by fiction writers such as Jules Verne of H.G. Wells. But at that time there hardly anybody would have thought that many years later mankind is able to look back at great achievements in space travel. Who does not know Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin who were the first two men to set their feet on the Moon in 1969, with the landing of Apollo 11. Also well know is the International Space Station (ISS), the habitable artificial satellite circling the globe every one and a half hour with an altitude of between 330 and 435 km. Not only those success stories, but also big tragedies like the Challenger space shuttle explosion in 1986, will remain in our memories.
It’s human curiosity that motivates the people to advance into the unknown and keeps researchers busy. And space already in the medieval age fascinated scientists like Leonardo da Vinci, most likely because it is so hard to reach. Facts that have not changed since then. Many people are still keen to learn more about the infinite width of cosmos, although mankind knows plenty about it compared to those times. Inventors, researchers and experts joint their forces in order to go on the most diverse missions. Satellites, orbiters, space telescopes have been built, people shoot into space in rockets taller than buildings, machines landed on other planets and even on comets.
Motivation To Go Into Space
All those missions have something in common, namely the collection of data, which then has to be processed and communicated back to earth. Scalable solutions for all space crafts are required and interoperability has to be ensured, in order to achieve a more efficient and faster exchange of data. High-end technology is supposed to simplify on-board electric and electric architecture, reduction of software complexity and re-usage of cross-industry enhancements.
A New Space Consortium Has Born
Just recently another group of high-tech companies assembled in order to go on a joint mission. The EtherSpace consortium, currently consisting of Airbus DS, Axon, TTTech and EBV Elektronik, started with a clear motivation. Ethernet will be used in more and more space applications around the globe. EtherSpace partners have the aspect of open standards and interoperability in mind, as well as full compatibility with IEEE 802.3. IP providers, chip manufacturers as well as companies providing cables and connectors have to work together to establish the relevant ECSS and CCSDS standards. This fosters even faster adoption.
Furthermore, the consortium is aiming to provide a platform for “Ethernet in space” success stories. This is supposed to help to promote these standards. There are significant challenges in bringing 10 Gbps and faster Ethernet solutions to space. Substantial investments in the right radiation hardened Ethernet controllers and transceivers are required. A consortium like EtherSpace and strong partnerships are easier to shoulder this, rather than one or two individual companies. Speaking mid-term the consortium aims at the development of cost-competitive, standardized components with no export restrictions so they can deployed globally.
EtherSpace At ILA Berlin Air Show
EtherSpace some weeks ago presented itself during the ILA Berlin Air Show from June 1st to 4th at the Berlin ExpoCenter Airport Schönefeld. The exhibition, with exhibitors from 40 countries and around 120.000 visitors, is a must-attend event for all international industry experts from every segment of the aerospace and aviation industry. On our booth, together with our partners Axon, TTTech and Airbus DS, we presented solutions of each of the consortium partners.
Introducing The Consortium Partners
Among them was a Fiber Optic Connector 10G Ethernet from AXON, a French group specialised in the design and manufacture of custom design interconnect including wires and cables, connectors and integrated systems. AXON is the main supplier for cable harnesses of the Ariane 5 heavy lift launch vehicle. TTTech brought a 3U-VPX Rugged Switch for avionics applications and a TTTech PCIe TTE Network Interface Card. TTTech has been engaged in the space market since 2000 and is a provider of chip IP, development equipment and PC based tooling (network configuration). Airbus DS, Europe’s No. 1 in defense and space, in the consortium is responsible for system integration. They showcased a simulation model of a cube satellite with a three-level on-board computer.
EBV Elektronik, also with strong expertise in the high-rel and industrial segment, for many years already is the initiator of the 2015 founded EtherSpace consortium. Together with our semiconductor partners we are able to develop solutions like the demonstrator board with Altera FPGA Stratix V for deterministic 10G Ethernet we showcased at the ILA Berlin Air Show.
More explanations about the objectives of EtherSpace will follow in upcoming articles. So stay tuned for more information about “Ethernet in Space” to come. If you want to learn more about the EBV High-Rel segment, visit our website or contact us here.