TTTech Aerospace Contributed to New ECSS Time-Triggered Ethernet Engineering Standard for Space Applications

The dedicated ECSS (European Cooperation for Space Standardization) working group has released its ECSS-E-ST-50-16C standard for Time-Triggered Ethernet for space applications in September 2021. This standard will make it easier for companies to implement Time-Triggered Ethernet networks in their applications. TTTech Aerospace has collaborated with the working group and contributed heavily to this new open standard.

This ECSS Working Group comprises Europe’s largest space agencies and most important industrial companies that integrate Ethernet networks which rely on fault-tolerant synchronization and deterministic packet routing as described in the Time-Triggered Ethernet (SAE AS6802) standard. The ECSS Working Group collaborated to create a common set of design principles to be used for future European space activities and programs based on Time-Triggered Ethernet on-board communication, simplifying the deployment and reuse of real-time Ethernet networking in space.

TTTech Aerospace had participated in this ECSS working group since 2016 and helped to further standardize the Time-Triggered Ethernet protocol for the use in launchers and satellites, while paving the way for human and robotic space exploration. The ECSS-E-ST-50-16C standard enhances the Time-Triggered Ethernet protocol (SAE AS6802) with space-specific requirements and tailors network devices configuration to promote their interoperability. TTTech Aerospace had already contributed to the SAE AS6802 protocol standardization and the Time-Sensitive Networking standardization in IEEE 802 and this key know-how was used together with the deep experience of the working group to adapt the generic SAE standard to the European space industry’s needs.

“We have been advocates for open, standardized technologies since day one and we are proud to actively contribute to several well-known standards that now benefit the space industry. ESA is one of the most significant actors in the European space sector and their support, together with major industrial partners, of the new standard is key for its success,” says Christian Fidi, Senior Vice President Business Unit Aerospace at TTTech. “ECSS-E-ST-50-16C will ensure compatibility and interoperability between different Time-Triggered Ethernet hardware components for space applications. This is especially important for large-scale projects, such as Ariane 6 or NASA’s Gateway, where several suppliers are involved, and where all the equipment needs to be connected seamlessly.”

“Open communication standards, such as ECSS-E-ST-50-16C, foster interface compatibility between communication devices and components and aim at facilitating equipment design and development as well as seamless integration and test activities. A stable and community driven standard specification reduces long-term costs, lowers operational risks for suppliers and secures both large-scale integrators and equipment suppliers investments in compatible avionics units for a long time-span,” says Marco Rovatti, Avionics and Data Handling Engineer, Electronic Department at ESA-ESTEC.

Time-Triggered Ethernet is becoming a widely accepted data networking standard in the industry, also thanks to its implementation in high-profile space programs. TTEthernet®, a Time-Triggered Ethernet technology, has been baselined in the “International Avionics System Interoperability Standards (IASIS)” by NASA and its space agency partners. It will be deployed in the avionics of NASA’s Gateway and serves as single avionics data network in the European flagship launch vehicle Ariane 6.