Handheld Satellite Terminal

Orbital Sciences Corp. - Mublcom
Getting Voice And Data To Marines In The Field

PTR Group Software Makes Hand-Held Satellite Terminal Work

Orbital is the world's leading manufacturer of low-cost space systems and products, including satellites, launch vehicles, electronics and sensors, satellite ground systems and software, and satellite-based navigation and communications products.

The MUBLCOM Program
In a partnership with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U. S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Orbital successfully built and launched the Multiple Path Beyond Line-of-Sight Communications (MUBLCOM) satellite. MUBLCOM's advanced technology demonstrates space-based digital voice and data communications to combat forces or commercial users that were previously considered out of range of standard radio communications systems. The MUBLCOM satellite directly connects Orbital-built hand-held radios that are beyond the line of sight from one another without the need terrestrial infrastructure. MUBLCOM will demonstrate how troops are able to communicate securely and without interference over distances of more than 200 nautical miles. In addition to the military application, the system has potential for communications associated with disaster relief, forest fire fighting, police and Drug Enforcement operations.

The Challenge
When Orbital had a short timeframe to design, implement, and demonstrate full network routing capabilities on their MUBLCOM handsets, they came to The PTR Group.

As the primary architect for Orbital's MUBLCOM handheld-satellite terminal networking software, The PTR Group used an existing base of legacy code for digital-voice handsets and adapted these devices for use as network-based, protocol routers.

Using our extensive experience with network and routing protocols, The PTR Group designed a network architecture and front end utilizing commercial hardware and a commercial real-time operating system (VxWorks). A proprietary serial interface to the MUBLCOM handset required the architecting, design and implementation of board support package software, device drivers and networking applications code to implement the desired services. These services were delivered on an Embedded Planet Motorola PPC 860T QUICC-based target platform.

PTR Group Efforts Lead To Follow On Contract For Orbital

The aggressive six-week schedule was met and The PTR Group supported the successful demonstration of the resulting system to Orbital's customer, the United States Marine Corps. Following the successful demonstration of this capability, Orbital was awarded a contract by the Marines to redesign the MUBLCOM Digital-Voice Handsets incorporating the technology developed by The PTR Group. Accordingly, Orbital asked The PTR Group to lead the follow on development work to upgrade the digital-voice handsets for a new demonstration milestone schedule for June of 2001.

This second phase effort for the Mobile Combat Network project included the porting of the existing handset application code to a new hardware platform designed by Orbital.



 This project is a model example of the capabilities of The PTR Group's unique team approach to product development.       

  •  System design
  • Software project management
  • Hardware Consulting and Debug
  • Device Driver and BSP Services
  •  Application Porting and Augmentation
  •  Network Design and Consulting Services

 A quote from the Orbital Mublcom program manager…

"...we can't think of using anyone but PTR"

 And, for you detail hounds out there, PTR Group support for the redesigned MUBLCOM Handset included...

  • Porting application code from a Tornado 1.0.1 Solaris development environment to a Tornado 2.0 development environment running under Windows NT
  • Hardware Consultation, Debug and Bring-up
  • Develop VxWorks BootROM and BSP for a 68EN360 microprocessor under the control of the Wind River Systems VxWorks Real-time operating system
  • Custom RF Network Driver (utilizing NPT)
  • Motorola CPM END Driver
  • Web Based User Interface for control of the system

VxWorks, Tornado and pSOS are registered trademarks of Wind River Systems. OSE is a registered trademark of OSE Systems. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds