Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS) was honored with an R&D 100 award for developing a revolutionary, reconfigurable spaceborne radio as part of a NASA-led team. The awards, presented annually by R&D Magazine and billed as the “Oscars of Innovation”, recognize the 100 most technologically significant innovations from across the United States.
Space-based remote data collection has accelerated rapidly in recent years, requiring greater bandwidth and reliability to relay the data. Future missions by NASA and other government and commercial organizations will rely on Ka-band frequency technologies to provide high-speed broadband connectivity for data, digital video and audio transmission. The Harris/NASA team developed the first space-qualified, software-defined radio (SDR) that operates in the high-capacity Ka-band frequency range. It sets the stage for replacing unique fixed-function mission radios with reprogrammable SDRs offering in-orbit reconfiguration, multi-waveform operation, and fast deployment.
The Harris SDR is operational onboard the International Space Station, where it has been successfully reprogrammed and demonstrated high-speed data transmissions through the NASA Tracking Data Relay Satellite system. The Harris AppSTAR TM reconfigurable payload architecture significantly reduced the development cost and schedule of the SDR. AppSTAR’s software-defined architecture enables ground mission planners to reconfigure and change the functionality of the radio during a mission by uploading or modifying software.
The effort was a cooperative program between Harris and the NASA Glenn Research Center. Harris Corporation’s Jeff Anderson and Kevin Moran, along with four NASA researchers, accepted the award on behalf of the team.“Jeff and Kevin, along with their NASA and Harris teammates, are to be commended for revolutionizing the development of new communications and networking technologies in space,” said Bill Gattle, vice president and general manager, National Programs, Harris Government Communications Systems. “Their innovative solution facilitates reuse of NASA’s communications platforms and provides reconfiguration capabilities that are critical for responsive space missions.”