NOAA Technology Transfer Award Archive

Kirk Liang

National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service

Author: Derek Parks/Tuesday, November 27, 2018/Categories: 2018 Awards

Mr. Liang serves as the Project Manager (PM) for the NESDIS Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite (POES) series of legacy satellites that have been flown from the late 1970’s to present. This award is his predominant role in the POES sustainment contract that included tasking to investigate viable alternatives to replace legacy components with a more modular, extensible and flexible design to simplify maintainability of the units as well as substantially reduce the upfront per unit costs compared to the legacy products.  

Continuity of operations of NOAA’s environmental satellites on a 24x7x365 basis is a mission critical function of NESDIS in order to support the life and property preservation missions of U.S. Federal, State and local agencies as well as international partner agencies. The technology developed and transferred under this project replaces costly components used for satellite telemetry and command with a more modular, extensible and flexible design to simplify maintainability of the units as well as substantially reduce the upfront per unit costs compared to the legacy systems.  

Mr. Liang utilized his knowledge-based and participatory leadership styles and worked closely with the  project team, sharing his electronic engineering expertise with the group, which resulted in positive team dynamics and a universally shared desire to meet the objectives of the project.  In addition to cost and design flexibility factors mentioned above, a major benefit of the modular architecture was the incorporation of IT security compliance into the system design in order to isolate any hardware or firmware dependency on Operating System support.  Therefore, the system can be updated and patched without adverse impact to the hardware or firmware module. 

Over the course of the development period, three major integrated hardware/software deliverables were developed and successfully implemented into OSPO operations in support of multiple missions. These were the Command & Telemetry Transceiver (CaTT), the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) Command Telemetry Processor Compact Command & Telemetry Processor (CCTP), and the Satellite Telemetry Data Recorder (STDR). 

The CaTT unit includes a suite of telemetry processing functions in a compact, highly integrated and configurable unit utilizing state-of-the-art electronics to achieve performance exceeding that of the legacy commercial units. Due to its modular design, the unit is extensible to support multiple missions (polar/geostationary earth remote sensing and space weather) at 40% the cost of the legacy commercial unit. The CaTT also includes a ranging capability required for precise orbit determination of geostationary and space weather satellites. The CaTT is operational on multiple NOAA satellite missions including DSCOVR, COSMIC, and KOMPSAT5, with plans for deployment in support of MetOp in FY18. 

The STDR system provides high performance, highly-configurable, multiple channels data recording, storage, and playback capabilities that outperform those provided by the vendor of the legacy system recording system. These are critical functions required by any command and control system to enable timely diagnostics in the event of satellite anomalies, and/or to retransmit commands telemetry should a problem occur in the transmission during real-time operations. 

The CCTP receives satellite commands from the OSPO Satellite Operations Center, and then generates and transmits a modified subcarrier analog data stream to an external modulator for transmission to the satellite via antenna. The telemetry downlink subsystem receives data transmitted by the satellite and performs telemetry CCSDS processing functions to prepare the satellite data for further downstream processing in the ground system.

LJT & Associates is commercializing the technology and began marketing these products in 2016 once sufficient maturity had been achieved, and has the interest of several prospective customers. LJT will make slight modifications to the STDR and provide 32 such units to the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).  The NASA Wallops Flight Facility has expressed considerable interest in the CCTP based on a comparison with a COTS unit.  In addition, the Taiwan National Space Organization (NSPO) is evaluating CaTT product for use in their antenna ground equipment.

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