Press Release

NASA Glenn Research Center and Veridian Conduct Demonstration of Internet-based Space Command and Control System Architecture

By SpaceRef Editor
November 2, 2000
Filed under

The National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) today announced the
successful demonstration of a new Transmission Control
Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) based architecture which could be
used to enable trusted distributed command and control of on-orbit
assets for future space missions.

Led by NASA’s Glenn Research Center (GRC), the design and
development of NASA’s “TCP/IP in Space” initiative is supported by
Veridian’s “Nautilus Horizon” project and GRC’s “Tempest” software.

The demonstration of NASA’s TCP/IP in Space initiative was held at
the Johnson Space Center in Houston, November 1-3, during NASA’s
Inspection 2000. NASA conducts their annual inspection events to
showcase the latest NASA-developed technologies. The demonstration
included remote operators at various locations sending commands
through the Internet using NASA’s Tempest software. The commands were
then processed through Veridian’s Secure Mission Operations Control
Center (SMOCC) set up at Johnson Spaceflight Center (JSC) and then
sent to a simulated spacecraft at JSC via a NASA TDRS satellite. The
demonstration also employed a Veridian “hacker” trying to crack the
security of the network.

In the near future, standard Internet protocols will be used for
controlling and commanding experiments and operations aboard NASA
spacecraft from networked, remote ground locations using highly secure
Internet connections. According to Phillip Paulsen of GRC’s Space
Communications Office and demonstration lead for this initiative,
“TCP/IP in Space, supported by Nautilus Horizon, will permit us to
control operations on-orbit, in near real time within a secure system
environment. The substantive benefits here will be a truly dramatic
increase in mission efficiency, an expansion of how much and what we
can do on-orbit and cost savings on future missions using
TCP/IP-compliant spacecraft and payloads.” GRC’s Tempest software
allows command and control of on-orbit assets via a web browser.
Tempest allows an experimenter to access experiments and data from a
networked desktop in their office. The experimenter no longer needs to
reside in a Mission Control facility, or wait for data to be stripped
out, formatted and made available for their use, a process that can
take several weeks.

Currently the process of integrating commands is very labor
intensive and centralized. Nautilus Horizon offers automated mission
integration ensuring that these distributed commands are sent by
authorized individuals, that experimenters are not in conflict with
one another, and that the specific commands will not adversely impact
critical station keeping and health and welfare of the flight
hardware. “Mission integration is integral to the Nautilus Horizon’s
basic functionality, and to its value,” said Jim Light, Veridian
Senior Vice President of Network and Space Systems.

In addition to the ability to control on-orbit operations from
multiple ground command stations, TCP/IP in Space and Nautilus Horizon
provide the capability for NASA to test operation of space vehicles,
equipment, satellites and components in a virtual environment, prior
to final assembly and launch of the satellite/space vehicle. The
capability to test components early in the production cycle of a
spacecraft will allow substantial time and money savings on a program
by identifying integration problems much earlier than currently

A critical component to the security of TCP/IP in Space and
Nautilus Horizon is the Veridian-developed SMOCC. The SMOCC creates a
controlled and trusted environment for space mission commands by
integrating a host of internetworking technologies, internetworking
security technologies, information protection tools and techniques
together with space mission integration and assurance systems and
processes. “The security and integrity of TCP/IP in Space is vital. We
must ensure that our operations on-orbit are protected,” noted GRC’s
Phillip Paulsen.

During Inspection 2000 the connectivity of Nautilus Horizon and
the strength of the SMOCC security features were tested by adding and
removing successive layers of security protection. “The integrity of
SMOCC ensures protection against hackers and human error,” said Tom
Sweet, Veridian Nautilus Horizon project officer and lead engineer.
“SMOCC is the heart and soul of TCP/IP in Space security, mission
assurance and mission integration. We have designed multiple
internetworking protections and integrated them with space mission
command and control functions to produce an architecture that will
enable NASA to not only control on-orbit activities from the ground,
but also allow for virtual testing of planned on-orbit activities
prior to actual execution in space.”

Veridian is a knowledge applications company delivering trusted
solutions in the areas of national defense, critical infrastructure
and essential business systems. A private company with annual revenues
of $650 million, Veridian operates at more than 50 locations in the US
and overseas, and employs nearly 5,000 computer scientists and
software development engineers, systems analysts, information security
specialists, scientists, engineers and other information technology
professionals. The company is known for building strong, long-term
relationships with a highly sophisticated customer base.

Note to Editors:
To arrange interviews with NASA and Veridian project managers, contact
Suzanne Stearns, Veridian, 703.575.3112, 202.841.2366,

SpaceRef staff editor.