NASA’s Disruption Tolerant Networking Challenge Series

Welcome to the NASA Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) project. DTN is an approach to computer network architecture that seeks to address the technical issues in heterogeneous networks that may lack continuous network connectivity. Examples of such networks are those operating in mobile or extreme terrestrial environments, or planned networks in space. Disruption may occur because of the limits of wireless radio range, sparsity of mobile nodes, energy resources, attack, and noise.

Project Background

The world’s leading space agencies have agreed that future spacecraft will communicate with Earth and among themselves using a new Solar System Internet (SSI) based on DTN technology. DTN is mature, but in order for it to be certified for use on spacecraft it must be formally standardized within the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS).
A critical step in that standardization process is approval of a Recommended Standard (also called a “blue book”) for the BP specification, and that approval in turn is contingent on demonstration of two complete inter-operating implementations of the specification. The existing “ION” and “DTN2” implementations of BP do inter-operate, but only the ION implementation is complete: the DTN2 implementation does not include an implementation of the recently defined DTPC capabilities. DTPC must be added to DTN2 in order for BP to be adopted as an international standard for space flight mission communications.

Project Overview & Stats

This project launched in September, 2013 and was completed in November, 2013. 

The project was completed using 4 challenges, and had 32 registrants from over 11 different countries. The primary objective of the project included validating an implementation of the “Delay-Tolerant Payload Conditioning” (DTPC) protocol specification, which was developed by the Marshall Space Flight Center.
MSFC needed assurance that this DTPC implementation:
A) Supported all features of the specification
B) Integrated with the “DTN2” implementation of the “Delay-Tolerant Networking” (DTN) “Bundle Protocol” (BP)
C) Inter-operated with the DTPC implementation that is included in the “ION” implementation of BP
The testing confirmed that the new “DTN2-DTPC” software satisfies the following requirements:

  • Utilized the DTN2 API for all bundle transmission and reception.
  • Can be accessed  via an API that offers all features of DTPC, as documented in release 2 of the CCSDS BP Draft Specification, to DTPC applications.
  • Included a test application that exercises all features of the DTN2-DTPC API.
  • Conform in all ways to release 2 of the CCSDS BP Draft Specification.