Maxar Technologies and Eutelsat were selected to participate in NASA’s Space Relay Partnership and Services Study. This studies future systems that could revolutionize NASA’s space-based communications architecture through innovative technologies and commercial partnerships. The future architecture would be used for scientific and human exploration missions in Earth orbit, at the Moon, and throughout the solar system beginning in the mid-2020s. NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation Program currently offers space-based radio frequency communications services for all of the agency’s space communications activities via its Space Network. The Space Network consists of a constellation of geosynchronous satellites called TDRS and ground systems that operate as a relay system between satellites.
Leveraging current and planned commercial communication and navigation infrastructure, Maxar will study concepts to augment the Space Network with more advanced optical communications capabilities and enhanced radio frequency services. Maxar will also study a framework that allows for a transition from government-owned and managed space services to commercially developed and operated services. This future architecture could unlock the promise of human exploration, new and greater scientific discovery, and reduce development and operations costs for future missions through improved communication and navigation services.
More specifically, Eutelsat was selected for NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2) as part of the NASA Space Relay Partnership and Services Study. The NextSTEP-2 program seeks to establish partnerships with U.S. companies to evaluate the incorporation of commercial elements into the future space relay services that will be provided by the agency’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Networks.