NASA and Digi XBee Wireless Testing Timeline

As part of their “wireless-in-space” efforts, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have been using Digi XBee to extend wireless networking capabilities in order to lessen the weight of spacecrafts, increase payload capacity, and create entirely new communication models. Below is the complete timeline of the Digi XBee journey into space:

In 2008, the NASA Ames Research Center started to explore a program called SOAREX which stands for (Sub-Orbital Aerodynamic Re-entry Experiments) to test different technologies like flight dynamics, the development of control systems, and sensor verification for future flight applications, improved safety, and data collection. Eventually, NASA engineers began discussing the capabilities of testing the performance of wireless sensor networks on a spacecraft and the potential benefits for future spacecraft.

In 2014, they began experimenting with new wireless technology and started using off-the-shelf components, including Digi XBee, to build out a network in order to bring wireless to space.


Artist rendering showing Exo-brake deployed.

On July 7, 2015 the SOREX-8 Black Brant IX sub-orbital sounding experiment rocket launched from Wallops Flight Facility with exo-brake technology and the first Digi XBee Zigbee to collect sensor data including temperature, air pressure, and 3-axis acceleration parameters. The successfully collected data from the wireless sensor modules validated the potential to someday launch off the International Space Station.


On Monday, March 6 at approximately 12:20 p.m. C.T. NASA released a TechEdSat 5 (Technical and Educational Satellite 5) equipped with Digi XBee® 802.15.4 modules as part of a test program for wireless communications within satellites and payloads from the International Space Station (ISS). Later that day we received confirmation that the TechEdSat 5 is sending data No details beyond that, so stay tune for more good news. In the meantime, watch the successful launch below:

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Tags: 802.15.4 XBee