SATCOM Requirements and Costing

NASA Airborne Science SATCOM capabilities

SATellite COMmunications systems of various types are now installed on most of the core science platforms. The tools referenced below are provided by the Airborne Science Program (ASP) to assist in the development of requirements and for general SATCOM cost reference.

Iridium sat-phone modems, with data rates up to 9.6Kb/sec, are standard equipment on the NASA DC-8, ER-2, P-3, and GV aircraft. These are included in the NASDAT (NASA Airborne Science Data and Telemetry system) navigation data recorders which were deployed in CY2015. Payload use of the Iridium service through the NASDATs is available globally and is provided as part of the flight hour cost of the platform.
INMARSAT BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) airborne SATCOM terminals supporting up to 432Kb/sec duplex data rates, are installed on the DC-8, the P-3, and both ER-2s.  Note that unlike the Iridium modems, BGAN service degrades rapidly at latitudes above ~70 degrees (a general INMARSAT coverage map is located below).  INMARSAT costs are not included in the price of the platform.  Investigators should contact David Van Gilst ( or 701-330-2978) for a mission specific consultation, complete an INMARSAT Requirements document, and attach it to the Flight Request.  A final estimate will be included as a SATCOM line item in the Flight Request estimate.
Please contact Don Sullivan (, 650-604-0526) for details on how to facilitate transferring funds to NASA Ames for INMARSAT SATCOM costs.

The WB-57F program at NASA Johnson Space Center provides INMARSAT capability separate from ASP.  Contact Tyler Thompson (, 281-244-0677) for details.

The WB-57F also includes a Ku-band SATCOM system (data rates in excess of 1Mb/sec) as standard mission equipment. Ku contracts are month long and vary based on coverage location and the current contract pricing .  Contact Tyler Thompson (, 281-244-0677) for details.



INMARSAT Coverage Map
INMARSAT Coverage Map