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T0144-S

Programmable Ultra Lighweight System Adaptable Radio (PULSAR)

PI: Arthur Werkheiser, NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center

Programmable Ultra Lightweight System Adaptable Radio (PULSAR) technology revolutionizes satellite transponder technology by increasing data through-put capability by, at least, an order of magnitude. PULSAR leverages existing Marshall Space Flight Center Software Defined Radio (SDR) designs and commercially enhanced capabilities to provide a path to a radiation tolerant SDR transponder. This provides high capability, low cost, transponders to programs of all sizes. The final project outcome would be the introduction of a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7 low-cost CubeSat to SmallSat telemetry system into the NASA Portfolio. The requested sounding rocket flight will achieve TRL 7.

Paper at 2013 Smallsat Conference

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA05 Communication and Navigation
Problem Statement

Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology has been proven in the commercial sector since the early 1990's. Today's rapid advancement in mobile telephone reliability and power management capabilities exemplifies the effectiveness of the SDR technology for the modern communications market. In contrast, presently qualified satellite transponder applications were developed during the early 1960's space program. Programmable Ultra Lightweight System Adaptable Radio (PULSAR, NASA-MSFC SDR) technology revolutionizes satellite transponder technology by increasing data through-put capability by, at least, an order of magnitude. PULSAR leverages existing Marshall Space Flight Center SDR designs and commercially enhanced capabilities to provide a path to a radiation tolerant SDR transponder. These innovations will (1) reduce the cost of NASA Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Deep Space transponders, (2) decrease power requirements, and (3) a commensurate volume reduction.

Technology Maturation

Also, PULSAR increases flexibility to implement multiple transponder types by utilizing the same hardware with altered logic - no analog hardware change is required - all of which can be accomplished in orbit. A sub-orbital flight will demonstrate successful operation under environmental conditions (space vacuum and launch loads) and will achieve TRL-7.

Future Customers

There have been several inquiries to use the PULSAR 2.3 radio, from across the U.S Government and industry.

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    NASA Directed
  • Program Status
    Withdrawn
  • Current TRL (?)
    Unknown
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 sRLV

Development Team

Web Accessibility and Privacy Notices Curator: Alexander van Dijk Responsible NASA Official: Stephan Ord Last Update: June 7, 2018