Mir Wireless Network Experiment (MWNE)

MWNE Hardware

Objectives

The MWNE was designed to evaluate the function of this system as part of remote communications planning for the ISS, to test commercial radio frequency wireless data links and mobile computer equipment to determine effective ranges and data throughput rates, to investigate the effects of radiation on advanced computer systems, and to investigate human/computer interaction factors in a microgravity environment.

Shuttle-Mir Missions
STS-76

Approach
The system was launched on STS-74. The experiment was performed aboard STS-76 and Mir Spektr in March, 1996. The MWNE utilized radio frequency spread spectrum radios operating in the 2.4 GHz band to communicate digital network data. The system consisted on commercial-off-the-shelf Pentium-based portable computer used as a wireless network server, a subnotebook computer, a personal digital assistant (PDA), associated cables, batteries, and cables. The crew tested the network by transmitting data between the server, the subnotebook computer, and the PDA. The network was tested in the middeck on the Shuttle and in the Spektr module of Mir.

Results
The data transfer in the Orbiter occurred nominally with over 7.6 MB of data transferred at a throughput of over 1.2 MB per minute. In the Mir modules, the data transfer occurred successfully, even with the transmitter power reduced to meet electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) with the Mir flight system.

The MWNE successfully demonstrated that data can be transferred using wireless networks. Wireless networks operating in the 2.4 GHz band at 50 mW output power are feasible for ISS deployment, with coverage of one ISS module assured. Radio systems with even less output power are feasible. Experiments with antenna design and radio characteristics could optimize spacecraft usage. Wireless networks did not cause electromagnetic interference to spacecraft or payload systems. This was demonstrated through analysis, ground-based integration testing and inflight operations.

Publications
Lofton R, Conley C. International Space Station Phase 1 Risk Mitigation and Technology Demonstration Experiments. 48Th International Astronautical Congress; 1997 Oct 6-10; Turin, Italy; International Astronautical Federation.

Principal Investigators
Yuri Gawdiak
NASA/Ames Research Center

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