Project Coordinator (EU) :University of Surrey
Country of the EU Coordinator :UK
Organisation Type :Academia
Project participants :
University of Surrey:
Prof. Nishanth Sastry is Research Director of Department of computer science, Co-Lead of the Distributed and Networked Systems Group in the Department of Computer Science, University of Surrey, Co-Director of pan university Surrey Security Network. He will provide networked systems expertise and has previous experience helping setup nationally important testbeds, including King's College London's node of the first end-to-end 5G testbed in the UK.
Dr. James McClure has 10 years of experience supporting research computing services as well as research expertise in parallel and distributed computing, including both hardware and software components. Previous projects have considered the development of edge computing technologies for mobile UAV teams, which incorporate heterogeneous networks and embedded devices using Kubernetes. These areas significantly overlap with the expected trajectory for future space communications.
Dr. Mohamed Kassem received the Ph.D. degree in computer science from The University of Edinburgh, UK, in 2020. He is currently a research fellow at the University of Surrey, UK. Prior to this, he was a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at the Faculty of Computers and Artificial Intelligent, Cairo University, Egypt. His research interests focus on aspects relevant to the next-generation Internet, wireless, and mobile (5G and beyond) networks, including, LEO satellites mega-constellation, 5G mobile network architecture, vRAN, multi-RAT systems, spectrum sharing, and Universal Internet Access.
Prof. Jonathan Black is a Prof. essor in the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech, Co-Director of Space@VT, the Director of the Aerospace and Ocean Systems Division (AOSD) within the VT National Security Institute, and the Northrop Grumman Senior Faculty Fellow in C4ISR. Specifically related to this project, Dr. Black is the Co-Director of the Virginia SmallSat Data Consortium (VSDC). The data cube, real-time cloud computing, rural broadband, and AI/ML work of VSDC will be key resources leveraged
Dr. Samantha Parry Kenyon graduated with a PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Florida’s Precision Space Systems Laboratory. She is currently a Research Associate at Virginia Tech and is involved with numerous research programs through the Center for Space Science and Engineering (Space@VT) and the Virginia Tech National Security Institute (VT-NSI).
State of US partner :Virginia
Starting date :
Transatlantic testbed for LEO Satellite mega-constellations
Inter-connecting the two testbeds across Atlantic and demonstrating the proposed experiments will allow us to contribute to building more resilient Internet from space which can be deployed quickly at scale during critical events such as Ukraine War, natural disasters, etc., and which will be more resilient to failure. This project will also enable us to propose techniques that would enable more efficient Internet from space with interoperability between different competing mega-constellations, through sharing connectivity and potentially sharing data for efficient interconnectivity.
Impact 1: Enhanced EU – US cooperation in Next Generation Internet, including policy cooperation.
The main objective of this collaboration is to facilitate the use of the two testbeds to the research communities in both US and Europe. Demonstrating this inter-connectivity between the two testbeds, and open-source the architecture and deployment model would allow our research groups across EU and US to replicate the same model, and enable further collaborations. Having a fully interconnected transatlantic testbed is also important for taking advantage of expected closer ties in EU-US R&D collaboration relating to Space Research and novel applications of 5G/6G, Autonomous Vehicles, and AI/ML over Starlink-like networks. And particularly for both teams at Surrey and VT, the collaboration on this project enabled both teams to work and collaborate on a further project beyond this NGI Atlantic project.
Impact 2: Reinforced collaboration and increased synergies between the Next Generation Internet and the US Internet programmes.
Inter-connecting the two testbeds, making the simulator software open-source for the research community, and offering the testbeds as a service that will create the environment and empower the research community to work, collaborate and develop research ideas for the next generation internet.
As a result of this project, Dr. Jon Black and his team have recently secured research grant fund from the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative Southwest Virginia to address the cybersecurity challenges of inter- and intra-constellation communications of internet satellite constellations using the simulator and the across Atlantic testbed we developed during this project.
Impact 3: Developing interoperable solutions and joint demonstrators, contributions to standards.
The testbed with its connectivity across the Atlantic will give rise to step changes in the field because it will provide a distributed testbed that, at its heart, promotes interoperability, as it allows different mega-constellations with internal rules, e.g., different ground station-satellite association criteria, different internal routing to inter-connect. This will enable:
- Academics from a multidisciplinary research community of both networking and aerospace researchers to re-think and design new network protocols and constellation management mechanisms, creating a platform for new joint and interoperable systems design research papers and projects.
- Established players, hi-tech start-ups, as well as SMEs and “New-Space” companies to test and verify their new protocols on a high fidelity/accurate testbed before the expensive deployment phase on real-world satellites.
Impact 4: An EU - US ecosystem of top researchers, hi-tech start-ups / SMEs and Internet-related communities collaborating on the evolution of the Internet
One of the objectives of this project is to offer the two testbeds as a service to allow SMEs and start-ups to design and evaluate new network protocols in a realistic environment. We received high interests from different companies (e.g., CGI and Mangata Networks) to use this trans-Atlantic testbed to test and simulate their future scenarios before going to
prototype implementation. We are also collaborating with Telefonica Research Barcelona and Microsoft Azure Space (via Microsoft Research) on the cloud/connectivity/networking aspects of our testbed. In our conversations with these companies, they have indicated that inter-constellation connectivity as well as a more principled way to think about failure and resilience will be critical features for their future plans and therefore forms the next step in our testbed roadmap.
To the best of our knowledge, the above experiments will be the first to emulate, evaluate and discuss the importance of Inter-constellation connectivity to enhance network performance and achieve resilience for the new paradigm of Internet from Space. The project will showcase scalable emulation for different satellite mega-constellation, and highlight the most appropriate way to inter-connect them.
The expected results of the project will include:
The ability to connect different mega-constellations across two campuses will enable other institutions to replicate the same model and that would facilitate a new research direction focusing on inter-constellation connectivity not only between different LEO mega-constellation but that can also be extended to MEO and GEO satellites (i.e., that would enable looking at future scenarios that different industries started to look at it https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-62306617).
Identifying the most appropriate inter-domain routing protocol to be implemented between different constellation, and highlighting any key adaptations required to optimise its performance (e.g., convergence time)
Quantifying the negative impact of disruptive events on the mega-constellations and define inter-domain adaptation or topology changes to overcome these failures.
Results of the experiments and their analysis will be publicly available.
Future Plan :
Existing routing protocols such as OSPF cannot cope with the high dynamics of LEO network and the fast topology changes. Thus, one of the potential future works is to design and implement a pro-active routing protocol that predict the network topology changes and pre-compute satellites’ routing tables ahead of time such that when the changes occur, the updated routing tables can be deployed instantaneously.
We also observed that topology design can play a vital role in how resilient the LEO network can be. We will be working on designing other experiments to understand how to design a resilient and robust network topologies for LEO networks.