Digital test bench for fast testing of complex Payloads

Status date

As payloads become more complex the number of RF paths to test during AIT and IOT increases significantly, which increases the overall duration of the payload testing when conventional test methods are employed. Since payload testing is on the critical path of satellite AIT and IOT activities, this leads directly to a longer program schedule with associated commercial impacts.

The test duration can be shortened considerably by using innovative test methods. These include the implementation of fast RF measurements requiring parallel TM/TC processing and a faster dialogue with the satellite platform, convergence between the operational interfaces and the test benches, as well as the ability to perform different tests simultaneously. 


Digital test bench designed for RF testing during Payload and Satellite AIT.

IOT test bench upgraded using the same software.

OCOE and on-board software upgraded to allow a faster TM acquisition during test sequences.

RF interface using optical fiber breadboard performance achievement


The combined effect of these developments is an acceleration of RF test duration by about 3 which lead to a significant schedule reductions in the AIT and IOT campaigns, depending upon the complexity of the payload, with a commensurate reduction in the overall satellite delivery schedule. 


The final product of the proposed development is a validated AIT digital test bench suitable for testing during AIT in C-band, Ku-band and Ka-band.

Main software evolutions have been applied to IOT test bench.

The test bench capabilities includes:

  • New techniques for performing fast RF measurements.
  • Methods for telemetry data acquisition to facilitate such measurements.
  • Use of flight-representative payload test signals.
  • Testing over a wide bandwidth (300 MHz).
  • Harmonization of AIT and IOT software.

Deliverable items:

  • Validated AIT digital test bench and IOT digital test bench on repeater simulator,
  • First experience on a commercial program,
  • Design report for extension to Ka-band.
  • RF interface using optical fiber breadbording

Standard off-the-shelf hardware is be made available by Thales Alenia Space and is not covered by the proposed activity.

Current status

New digital test bench is fully operational in C-band, Ku-band and Ka-band.

Prime Contractor