NASA expands with Sumitomo's air-blown fiber

May 16, 2008
May 16, 2008 -- Sumitomo Electric Lightwave has expanded its FutureFLEX system throughout NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

May 16, 2008 -- Sumitomo Electric Lightwave announced that its FutureFLEX air-blown fiber LAN infrastructure system has now been installed throughout major facilities at NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center, following an earlier installation at the Kennedy Center's Launch Pad A.

Sumitomo says the use of its air-blown fiber system allows the center to prepare its network for rapid implementation of high-bandwidth emerging technologies and other functions for NASA's Constellation Program. To achieve the goal of developing the most technologically advanced IT network for speed and delivery of communications technologies, new launch processing systems, and use of bandwidth-rich video to support the program's current and future requirements, NASA engineers are positioning empty blown fiber tubes throughout various facilities at the Kennedy Center, including the launch control center, vehicle assembly building, and a newly remodeled manufacturing facility.

"Our objective at Kennedy Space Center is to build an on-demand network that is ready for anything, including the quick implementation of bandwidth intensive video technologies and new launch systems, and a quick response time for getting crucial projects completed on time and on budget for the Constellation Space Exploration Program," comments Mathew K. Smisor, NASA's telecom systems engineer. "With air blown fiber technology, we can make network expansions, upgrades, and reconfigurations in minutes or hours rather than the days or weeks associated with a traditional fiber-optic infrastructure, while having real-time control of bandwidth and network capacity."

"Many of our projects -- such as the immediate transmission via fiber of digital images showing the status of ice buildup on the space shuttle Discovery -- resolve costly delays and life and death situations, if it's a manned spacecraft," adds Lawrence Wages an outside plant engineer for NASA. "By adopting an air-blown fiber infrastructure, we can quickly and easily make necessary network reconfigurations and changes at nearly a moment's notice and at a fraction of the cost of a conventional fiber-optic system, providing us with the means to be more responsive to mission critical situations while being fiscally responsible with budget dollars."

Sumitomo maintains that with its FutureFLEX system, as NASA's technology and network requirements develop, engineers will have the ability to quickly and easily air-blow specific amounts and types of fiber needed within the system's empty tube structure to upgrade, reconfigure, or expand the network, even in secure and limited access areas. The company contends that its air-blown fiber technology provides NASA with benefits including immediate control of bandwidth; no disruption to operations; a "pay-as-you go" approach to budgeting; and flexibility to quickly meet necessary network changes.

Sumitomos' FutureFLEX air-blown fiber infrastructure has also been deployed at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, California since 2005, serving as that facility's wireless infrastructure and backbone for the high-speed sharing of information among research facilities and new program enhancements.

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