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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

Communication System and Avionics for Deployable Small Free Flying Payloads

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

This IRAD will develop a core part of the communication system for the small free flying payloads.  In particular, this portion of the system will consist of the circuitry for modulation, data transmission, and power amplification for the deployable sub payload.  The development is a key part in the complete communication system which will include the main payload receiving system that will process the data transmissions for up to 48 instrumented sub payloads.  The communication system will be used on suborbital platforms where telemetry on deployable free flying payloads is required.  Current capabilities for this number of telemetered deployable bodies do not exist at this time, so this development will enable deployable sub payloads to collect scientific data in constellation configurations where otherwise impossible.

The objective of the project is to a have a functional communication system (data and transmission) for a single deployable sub payload.


The innovative features of this project:

  • Development of a core part (sub payload compact transmission system) of direct link communications between multiple payload bodies (currently, capability is not available).
  • Currently, the small size of the deployables prevents the use of off the shelf components to be utilized and necessitates the need for a compact design to meet the specific form factor (Length = 5in, 3.4in Diameter).


At the completion of the IRAD, if awarded, the intent is to produce a printed circuit board (PCB) that will be used for the encoding (for this IRAD, a fixed data pattern will be used) and signal conditioning of the data as well as for the circuitry for the power amplifier (PA) and data handling unit.

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