What Exactly is the Motivation for the EtherSpace Alliance?

Ether Space logoFirst of all, there is the aspect of open standards and interoperability – 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.

Secondly, to provide a platform for “Ethernet in Space” success stories that help to promote these standards further. Finally, there are significant challenges in bringing 10Gbps and faster Ethernet solutions to Space. They will require substantial investment in the high radiation hardened Ethernet controllers and transceivers.

Bringing together industry expertise and forming an alliance, rather than one or two individual companies, is more beneficial. Despite recent growth, the market for space-grade components is still small. The alliance’s mid-term goal is to develop cost-competitive, standardised components with no export restrictions so they can be deployed globally.

  • Complexity reduction (long-term cost saving)
  • Single network for payload and control (strictly partitioned)
  • Upgradeability/reusable platforms
  • Inherent fault tolerance/redundancy (no complex SW solutions needed)
  • Simpler integration and testing
  • No industry-specific data handling
  • Full determinism and synchronized operation (less memory required)
  • Synchronization to absolute time (GPS)
  • Scalability – 100Mbps, 1Gbps, 10Gbps or even 100 Gbps in the future
  • Weight savings ( PoE)
  • Composability – larger systems, habitats, safe separation and docking
  • Further cost savings: use of COTS equipment in ground segment which can be seamlessly connected (standard Ethernet)
  • Allows modular satellite system design, payload as well as control

Ethernet has been around for 40 years. This is relatively young compared to the world of spacecraft, where rocket engines from the 1960s are hardly considered outdated. Only in recent years has Ethernet been adopted for use in spacecraft – the space industry tends to wait for technologies to mature elsewhere before adopting them. Main examples for Ethernet usage in space are the ISS, NASA Orion MPCV and both Falcon launcher and Dragon capsule by SpaceX.

Even in telecommunication satellites the data throughput could be optimized with a fully synchronous, high-speed Ethernet backbone. Finally, whole new space applications just like the OneWeb constellation will require not only the production methods of the aerospace industry, but also most likely their approach to avionics, which is based on full-duplex Ethernet.

EBV Elektronik GmbH & Co. KG will be exhibiting at Space Tech Expo Europe 2017 in stand B71