On one of the last Space Shuttle missions NASA intends to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) its communication, navigation and networking reconfigurable testbed (CONNECT) project's experimental payload.

The US space agency is inviting companies to enter into cost-sharing contracts and co-operative agreements to conduct ground and eventually ISS-based research to use this testbed to develop communications, navigation and networking technologies.

CONNECT's testbed will consist of reconfigurable software defined radios (SDR), radio frequency devices operating at S-, Ka- and L-band, and command and data handling and networking systems.

"The CONNECT [testbed] payload is an experiment planned for installation on an Express Logistics Carrier located on the exterior of the [ISS]. The payload is planned to launch aboard a Shuttle as early as January 2010," says NASA.

NASA wants to investigate new concepts and technologies for future GPS signal assessment, high data rate Ka-band operations, and low-cost and low-power S- and Ka-band SDR transceivers.

It also wants to advance the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of the agency's space telecommunications radio system architecture, proposed signal waveforms, operational concepts, access schemes and spaceflight software.

For the ISS testbed NASA is specifying to potential contractors the need for technologies with TRLs of at least five and above.

The TRL rating system operates from one, where the basic principles of a technology have been observed, through to nine for a flight-qualified system.

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Source: FlightGlobal.com