Test of Satellite Communications Systems on-board Suborbital Platforms to Provide Low-Cost Data Communications for Research Payloads, Payload Operators, and Space Vehicle Operators

PI: M. Brian Barnett, Solstar Space Company

Solstar is flying satellite communications transceivers on-board suborbital reusable launch vehicles to test and demonstrate that commercial communications satellite networks can be used to provide internet and voice communications for people and payloads in space. These test flights will enable us to mature and develop our technologies specifically for the space environment. We will test text messaging, location reporting, voice communications, and WiFi payloads. The FOP tests provides an excellent test bed for maturing our technologies in a space environment.

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA05 Communication and Navigation
Problem Statement

NASA and commercial developers of orbital and suborbital spacecraft, as well as crew on the ISS, have a constant need to lower the cost and ease of two-way air-to-ground data transmission. Current government-owned networks are expensive and sometimes over-extended. Solstar's new modern communications technologies, based on internet protocol, can provide a lower cost and efficient mode of communication to augment government-owned infrastructure and meet the need for lower cost, efficient communications.

Technology Maturation

The purpose of these flights is to demonstrate and mature voice and data communications services and equipment to be tested in the space environment, above 100km, and at rocket velocities. The FOP spaceflights will provide an ideal test platform to mature our technologies leading to commercial internet services in space. These test flights and subsequent evaluation of the data will enhance the TRL level of internet protocol applications in space.

Future Customers

NASA, FAA, DoD, International Space Agencies.
Commercial spacecraft and spaceliners such as Virgin Galactic, Up Aerospace, World Space, private astronauts/passengers.
Space researchers and scientists, sRLV payload specialists, science payload developers and operators on the ground communicating with their payloads in space.

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    AFO6 (Jun 2013)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    TRL 4
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 3 sRLV
  • 1 Balloon

Development Team

  • PI
    M. Brian Barnett
  • Organization
  • Sponsor
  • Partners
    Virgin Galactic, UP Aerospace, Masten, Near Space Corporation, Blue Origin, Bosque School

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