New Communication Tech for Deep-Space Missions

The limits of the speed of light could overturn decades of NASA mission management

3 min read
Using a simulated spacecraft, NASA researchers are testing new tools for collaboration between crews and mission control during deep space missions.
Mock Mission: Using a simulated spacecraft, NASA researchers are testing new tools for collaboration between crews and mission control during deep space missions.
Photo: NASA

22 June 2012—In anticipation of deep-space missions to near-Earth asteroids and beyond, a team of researchers is trying out techniques that could rewrite NASA’s rules for human spaceflight.

Last week, using a mock-up of a spacecraft at the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, the team conducted the second of a two-part series of simulations designed to test how well flight controllers and astronauts work together when separated by distances well beyond those of the Apollo lunar program of the 1960s and ’70s.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

Stay ahead of the latest trends in technology. Become an IEEE member.

This article is for IEEE members only. Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Top Tech 2022: A Special Report

Preview two dozen exciting technical developments that are in the pipeline for the coming year

1 min read
Photo of the lower part of a rocket in an engineering bay.

NASA’s Space Launch System will carry Orion to the moon.

Frank Michaux/NASA

At the start of each year, IEEE Spectrum attempts to predict the future. It can be tricky, but we do our best, filling the January issue with a couple of dozen reports, short and long, about developments the editors expect to make news in the coming year.

This isn’t hard to do when the project has been in the works for a long time and is progressing on schedule—the coming first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System, for example. For other stories, we must go farther out on a limb. A case in point: the description of a hardware wallet for Bitcoin that the company formerly known as Square (which recently changed its name to Block) is developing but won’t officially comment on. One thing we can predict with confidence, though, is that Spectrum readers, familiar with the vicissitudes of technical development work, will understand if some of these projects don’t, in fact, pan out. That’s still okay.

Engineering, like life, is as much about the journey as the destination.

See all stories from our Top Tech 2022 Special Report

Keep Reading ↓ Show less