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Key technologies the commercial satellite constellations need are on the horizon

13 Mar 2018, 14:17 UTC
Key technologies the commercial satellite constellations need are on the horizon
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WASHINGTON — If satellite constellations are to fulfill their promise of offering global communications services, they will need key technologies including low-cost antennas and laser cross-links, according to speakers at the Satellite 2018 conference here.
“You’ve got to have ground antennas that are agile, affordable and can be produce in quantity,” said Erwin Hudson, Telesat Canada’s vice president for the Telesat LEO broadband constellation. Those antennas are on the horizon, he added, thanks in part to the investment of terrestrial communications companies in 5G networks.
“We were upset when the 5G guys tried to take our [satellite] spectrum at 30 gigahertz band,” Hudson said. “The good news is they are dumping tons of money in antenna technology. Now we are saying, ‘Spend more. Spend more.’”
All of the technologies the new constellations will require are being developed or repackaged for commercial satellite applications.
Ball Aerospace, for example, is eager to share phased-array antenna technology it developed for military applications with commercial communications constellations. “We see huge demand for the use of the antennas for 5G satellite communications,” said Debra Facktor, Ball vice president and general manager for strategic operations.
Ball is eager to working with industry partners to redesign antenna ...

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