PASADENA, Calif. — As the cost of phased array antennas drops, the technology becomes increasing attractive to commercial customers like Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), the Norwegian company that operates 179 antennas at 22 different sites around the world.
KSAT is watching the market very carefully and “actively seeking a partner for phased array technologies,” Katherine Monson, KSAT USA head, said May 21 at the Space Tech Expo here.
Electronically steered antennas cost more than traditional parabolic dishes but the economic equation is complicated because a single electronically steered antenna can provide multiple communications links simultaneously. As a result, one electronically steered antenna can replace multiple dishes at a particular ground site.
Ball Aerospace, a longtime producer of phased array antennas for government customers, analyzed the costs and determined that if a phased array antenna can replace fewer than ten dish antennas, the phased array is more cost effective. “It becomes very compelling from a business case,” said Pete Moosbrugger, Ball Aerospace chief technologist of phased array and radio frequency technology.
At some point, the economics will favor phased array antennas, Monson said. “It’s inevitable. KSAT needs to be ready ahead of that demand,” she added.
Still KSAT is cautious about ...