A report describes the Orbiter Interface Unit (OIU) and the Early Communication System (ECOMM), which are systems of electronic hardware and software that serve as the primary communication links for the International Space Station (ISS). When a space shuttle is at or near the ISS during assembly and resupply missions, the OIU sends ground- or crew-initiated commands from the space shuttle to the ISS and relays telemetry from the ISS to the space shuttle's payload data systems. The shuttle then forwards the telemetry to the ground. In the absence of a space shuttle, the ECOMM handles communications between the ISS and Johnson Space Center via the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS). Innovative features described in the report include (1) a "smart" data-buffering algorithm that helps to preserve synchronization (and thereby minimize loss) of telemetric data between the OIU and the space-shuttle payload data interleaver; (2) an ECOMM antenna-autotracking algorithm that selects whichever of two phased-array antennas gives the best TDRSS signal and electronically steers that antenna to track the TDRSS source; and (3) an ECOMM radiation-latchup controller, which detects an abrupt increase in current indicative of radiation-induced latchup and temporarily turns off power to clear the latchup, restoring power after the charge dissipates.

This work was done by Ronald M. Cobbs, Michael P. Cooke, Gary L. Cox, Richard Ellenberger, Patrick W. Fink, Dena S. Haynes, Buddy Hyams, Robert Y. Ling, Helen M. Neighbors, Chau T. Phan, Kelly M. Prendergast, James D. Siekierski, Randall S. Wade, George A. Weisskopf, Hester J. Yim, Antha A. Adkins, James R. Carl, Y. C. Loh, Charles Roberts, Douglas J. Steel, Buveneka Kanishka DeSilva, Harold B. Killenb, and Robert M. Williams of Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the Johnson Commercial Technology Office at (281) 483-3809. MSC-23225

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the June, 2004 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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