IEEE 1394 Boosts Communications in Satellite Program

DALLAS, Tex., /BUSINESS WIRE/--A new series of tests conducted as part of an innovative satellite program demonstrate the benefits of the IEEE 1394 standard for technologically advanced space satellite programs, the 1394 Trade Association said today.

Northrop Grumman announced that tests demonstrated that the first fault-tolerant 1394 integrated circuits adapted for use in space are performing as planned. The company led the effort to verify, qualify, and manufacture the circuits for use on the next generation of polar orbiting environmental satellites.

For the satellite application, IEEE 1394a was tailored to efficiently and reliably manage the large amounts of data that will be generated by sensors on the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) and the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP). Some sensors will generate data at rates >30 Mbps. The 1394 technology enables serial networked communications between spacecraft sensors and the spacecraft. The standard operates at speeds up to 100 Mbps, or 100 times faster than existing integrated circuits used in space for command and data handling.

Dave Ryan, Northrop Grumman vice president and NPOESS program director, described the chipset as one of the most technologically innovative aspects of the NPOESS program.

The tests were performed on NPP with the Cross-Track Infrared Sounder engineering development unit, using the technology at ambient temperature over several weeks at Ball Aerospace & Technologies’ facilities in Colorado. Ball Aerospace is the prime contractor for NPP, a risk-reduction mission for NPOESS; Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for NPOESS.

“The announcement from Northrop Grumman Corporation is the latest in a growing series of successes for 1394 in some very exciting and valuable applications,” said James Snider, executive director of the 1394 Trade Association. “Their testing program for the polar orbiting satellite system demonstrates the benefits of 1394. These include very high speed data transport; peer-to-peer connectivity, which eliminates the need for a central controlling host; flexible topology, which makes it easy to add devices on an as-needed basis; and efficient allocation of bandwidth, which benefits configurations that include a variety of devices with varying throughput needs. These are the attributes of 1394 that continue to move it into new product groups, and we are very pleased to hear of their application in the fault-tolerant chipset for the satellite program.”

Snider added that the recent announcement contributes to a growing set of leading edge space and military applications in which 1394 has played a major role, beginning back in the mid 1990s with the advent of the Joint Strike Fighter program, among others.

Northrop Grumman Space Technology, based in Redondo Beach, Calif., develops a broad range of systems at the leading edge of space, defense, and electronics technology. The sector creates products for U.S. military and civilian customers that contribute significantly to the nation’s security and leadership in science and technology.

Northrop Grumman is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services, and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding, and space technology. With approximately 125,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government, and commercial customers.


The 1394 Trade Association is a worldwide organization dedicated to the enhancement and advancement of the IEEE 1394 standard, which is widely used in consumer electronics, computing, peripheral, and industrial applications. For more information about the 1394 Trade Association, visit