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United Kingdom Space Agency

Case study: Ku-Band Satellite Receiver with a difference

11 Sep 2017, 15:17 UTC
Case study: Ku-Band Satellite Receiver with a difference

The cost to develop satellites is prohibitively expensive; delivery takes too long and may not always be right-first-time, while manufacturers are handicapped by the current limitations of traditional, RF and digital technologies.

Existing satellite communication at L/S & C-band has become congested and both the space industry and government are looking to Ku-band to provide operators the bandwidths needed to deliver tomorrow’s, space-enabled economy for everyone.

This project researched and demonstrated the feasibility of directly processing Ku-band signals without the use of any traditional, RF, superheterodyne, receive circuitry, e.g. local oscillators, mixers or IF filters. We de-risked the concept of directly processing signals up to Ku-band in frequency leading the way to future satellite sub-systems which will be significantly smaller, lighter, less power consuming, more reliable and considerably less expensive to design, manufacture and test.

A first prototype was developed in 2015 which proved the concept and demonstrated how future Earth observation, telecommunication, navigation and science satellites can exploit the above advantages to deliver the next generation of missions at low cost.

Our prototype won High-Reliability Product of the Year at the ‘Electronics Weekly’ Elektra awards in 2016 and a new satellite transponder product is being developed in collaboration with a customer. Ultimately, Spacechips aspires to offer a new advance in satellite-transponder technology and bring-to-market a new and highly-enabling product for the space industry. Timeliness and getting a product to market as soon as possible is key to secure design-ins in a number of significant and high-profile, near-term prospects!

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