ESA’s Pacis 3 Partnership Project is gaining pace with validation testing of new Direct Radiating Array (DRA) antenna hardware for Spainsat NG, at Airbus Defence and Space, Madrid.
Pacis 3 is a Partnership Project (PP) between the satellite operator Hisdesat and the European Space Agency (ESA), with the support from Spain’s Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI).
ESA Telecoms Partnership Projects develop new sustainable end-to-end systems, up to in-orbit validation. The Pacis 3 project objectives are the development and integration of innovative antennas up to in-orbit validation, such as the System of Active Reconfigurable Antenna (SARA) for transmit and receive in X-band, and the deployable pallet with individually steerable Ka-band antennas. These antennas are developed under the leadership of Airbus Defence and Space, Spain, as industrial prime.
SARA system Receive (Rx) and Transmit (Tx) Direct Radiating Antennas (DRAs) are complex equipment comprising many elements of RF and digital hardware with diverse functionalities. Consequently, it was decided to validate end-to-end performance using complex hardware models encompassing Mechanical, EMC, Thermal, Electrical and RF aspects.
The two Design Validation Models (Rx and Tx) represent a subset of the complete flight DRAs and are currently at different stages of test at Airbus, Madrid.
Completion of initial functional and environmental testing has provided valuable information on optimal assembly procedures and test setups that will be relevant to flight DRA assembly and test. The full test campaign will be finalised in March 2022.
A review of the first test results has confirmed the performance predictions and provide good confidence that the design and associated hardware are performing according to analysis. These results and the associated lessons learnt are considered an essential element for design proving and de-risking of the flight DRA hardware development on the Spainsat NG satellite.