A Software Defined Radio (SDR) concept uses a minimum amount of analog/radio frequency components to up/downconvert the RF signal to/from a digital format. Once in the digital domain, all other processing (filtering, modulation, demodulation, etc.) is done in software. The project will leverage existing designs and enhance capabilities in the commercial sector to provide a path to a radiation-hardened SDR transponder. The SDR transponder would incorporate baseline technologies dealing with improved Forward Error Correcting (FEC) codes to be deployed to all Near Earth Network (NEN) ground stations. By incorporating this FEC, at least a tenfold increase in data throughput can be achieved.A family of transponder products can be implemented using common platform architecture, allowing new products to be more quickly introduced into the market. Software can be reused across products, reducing software/ hardware costs dramatically. New features and capabilities, such as encoding and decoding algorithms, filters, and bit synchronizers, can be added to the existing infrastructure without requiring major new capital expenditures, allowing implementation of advanced features in the communication systems.
As new telecommunication technologies emerge, incorporating them into the SDR fabric will be easily accomplished with little or no requirements for new hardware. There are no preferred flight platforms for the SDR technology, so it can be used on any type of orbital or sub-orbital platform, all within a fully radiation hardened design.