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Issue 2: Applications

NASA ACTS Satellite: A Disaster Recovery Test

Dr. Hans Kruse, Dr. Don Flournoy

Abstract | Full Paper (PDF, 483 KB)
Video (00:43 min., 1.7 MB) and Transcription

In September 1993, NASA launched its long-awaited Advanced Communication Technology (ACTS) satellite. ACTS is a $500 million experimental all-digital spacecraft hosting a number of first-time technologies: on-board processing and switching, high-powered electronically hopping spot beams, adaptive rain-fade compensation and opening of the Ka frequency band.

Among the earliest of the tests on the new satellite was a NASA sponsored project conducted by Ohio University and its commercial partner, the Huntington National Bank. HNB is a $17 billion regional bank with 338 offices in fourteen states. Transactions on HNB's data networks currently travel on terrestrial T-1 lines. The Ohio University/HNB tests were initiated to determine the capability of the satellite for service restoral in the case of a failure in one of the Bank's terrestrial links.

The ACTS Disaster Recovery Project was designed to test the Bank's ability to by-pass such problems on the ground by switching to a space path. The goal was to make the switch-over with the briefest interuption of service, with minimal loss of transmitted data, within acceptable cost and with sustained security.

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Dr. Don Flournoy
Professor, School of Media Arts and Studies

"The experiment is to test whether the bank data can be quickly and effectively rerouted using space as a way to bypass the problems on the ground. Having communications back up is important for banks, insurance companies and other such organizations for they stand not only to lose their money but customer confidence which is very important for such kind of organizations when their communication lines are down."

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