European Space Agency

MATRIX - Multiple Access Telecom Reconfigurable Inter-satellites X-factor

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The Satcom market is evolving with massive growth in bandwidth 
offered to fixed and mobile users. We see two trends: 

  • Large LEO/MEO constellations (e.g. OneWeb, Starlink, O3B, mPower)
  • Ultra High Throughput GEO Satellite systems (e.g. VIASAT 3, JUPITER, KONNECT)

In the case of GEO systems, increased capacity is achieved:

  • with larger user spectrum utilisation
  • and aggressive frequency reuse in the coverage

This results in a very large aggregated bandwidth, with feeder link becoming the bottleneck. As a result, a very large number of distributed gateways need to be deployed and these need to be interconnected with a very expensive ground network.

To solve this problem, and enable a more efficient and cost-effective way to realise satellite systems able to deliver services beyond 1 Terabit/s, an ESA team came up with an innovative solution they call MATRIX (Multiple Access Telecom Reconfigurable Inter-satellites X-factor).

This idea, currently being patented (link:https://patents.google.com/patent/WO2019137625A1/en),

is using the concept of Fractionation, replacing a traditional satellite that includes a User Link component and a Feeder link component with a new distributed system where we have a satellite that only deals with the links to the users, while the the Feeder Link is handled by several smaller relay Feeder satellites interconnected with the User satellite using High Frequency or Optical Inter Satellite links.   These Feeder satellites are orbiting in inclined orbits AROUND the user satellite and are connected to an equivalent number of Ground Gateways.

As the demand for Bandwidth increases, we can launch additional feeder satellites thus enabling a real multiplication factor on the achievable system bandwidth without significantly increasing the required number of gateways.   This results in much smaller overall number of gateways required, compared to a  traditional system, with the ability to grow and upgrade the system gradually to meet growing demand.

 

The MATRIX value proposition:

  • MATRIX enables extremely broadband (beyond Terabit) satellite service, by solving the feeder link bottleneck and enabling frequency and orbital slot re-use
  • MATRIX offers a scalable system that can grow as traffic demand grows, minimising investment risk for operators.
  • MATRIX can reduce operator cost by lowering the number of Gateways and interconnections on ground and adopts a modular, interoperable, scalable  space segment with standardised interfaces
  • MATRIX creates a new business paradigm, a flexible and secure  Teleport in space, that can accommodate  new customers (Supporting security, Data Relay from space, 5G interconnection). 

For more information contact: Michael Hadjitheodosiou at Michael.hadjitheodoiou@esa.int