European avionics technology could be used for NASA's Orion crew exploration vehicle (CEV) following an unfunded space act agreement with Vienna based-TTTech Computertechnik.

The agreement, signed in mid-March, is to support NASA's development of technology for Orion's electronic systems and create an ethernet based standard potentially for the CEV's video, audio and sensor systems' data needs.

TTTech's involvement marks the second time a European company has been considered for NASA's return to the Moon vehicles. France's Snecma Propulsion Solide's nozzle technology was examined for NASA's Ares rockets' upper stage Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne J-2X engine before the space agency chose a US made metal alternative.

"During the launch phase they need large amounts of data," says TTech Computertechnik aerospace marketing manager, Mirko Jakovljevic, adding that the SAA may lead to a contract award.

NASA has been struggling with Orion's electronic systems. In a February 2009 issue of its Johnson Space Center's 8th Floor News newsletter it was reported that in 2008 the Orion project office requested an 8Mbps phased array communications system. That was rejected on mass and power grounds and by February this year the office had settled on a "Hybrid Lite" system.

This is a combination of a phased array S-Band system that nominally provides data at up to 192kbps with a 500kbps return rate capability and a high gain antenna. That delivers simultaneous S and Ka band transmission for greater bandwidth.

TTTech's involvement began through the company's relationship with Honeywell. Its defence and space electronics division was contracted by CEV prime contractor Lockheed Martin to produce Orion's avionics. Honeywell and TTTech have developed the product TTEthernet for enabling real-time communication and parallel networks of internet protocol traffic.

Jakovljevic was not aware of any link between NASA's work with other space agencies on international lunar outpost architecture standards and his company's agreement.