Katherine K. Martin
Media Relations Office

February 10, 2012
RELEASE : 12-007
NASA Glenn Completes Space Hardware for Launch to International Space Station
CLEVELAND -- New and improved ways for future space travelers to communicate will be tested on the International Space Station, after a launch later this year from Japan. The SCaN Testbed, or Space Communications and Navigation Testbed, was designed and built at NASA's Glenn Research Center over the last three years.

The SCaN Testbed will provide an orbiting laboratory on space station for the development of Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology. These systems will allow researchers to conduct a suite of experiments over the next several years, enabling the advancement of a new generation of space communications.

The main advantage of SDRs is that they are reconfigurable in orbit, and can be modified and upgraded to meet future communication needs for spacecraft after launch. The SCaN Testbed will be the first hardware to demonstrate capabilities provided by SCRs in the realistic environment of space, including the new communications, networking and navigation techniques that will be used on future space missions.

"The SCAN Testbed will take space communications to a higher level," said John Sankovic, chief of Glenn's Space Operations Project Office. "It will advance communication, navigation and network technologies to reduce mission risks and enable future mission capabilities."

The SCaN Testbed is a complex space laboratory, comprised of three SDRs, each with unique capabilities aimed at advancing different aspects of the technology. Two SDRs were developed under cooperative agreements with General Dynamics and Harris Corp., and the third was developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif. JPL also provided the five-antenna system on the exterior of the Testbed, used to communicate with NASA's orbiting communications relay satellites and NASA ground stations across the United States.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., developed communications software that resides on the JPL SDR.

Glenn led the design, development, integration, test and evaluation effort and provided all the facilities needed to fabricate, assemble and test the SCaN Testbed, including a flight machine shop, large thermal/vacuum chamber, electromagnetic interference testing with reverberant capabilities, a large clean room and multiple antenna ranges, including one inside the clean room.

Glenn also will be the hub of mission operations for the SCaN Testbed, with high-speed ties to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala. for real-time command and telemetry interfaces with space station. NASA Johnson Space Center's White Sands Test Facility, Las Cruces, N.M. and Goddard's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va., will provide Space Network and Near Earth Network communications.

The SCaN Testbed will launch to space station on Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency's H-IIB Transfer Vehicle (HTV-3) and be installed by extravehicular robotics to the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier-3 on the exterior truss of space station.

The SCaN Testbed will join other NASA network components to help build capabilities for a new generation of space communications for human exploration.

For print quality images of the SCaN Testbed, visit:

For more information about Glenn, visit:

For more about the International Space Station research and technology demonstrations, visit:


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