The product developed in the frame of this activity is a Ku-band phased array antenna for the Land-mobile segment. The antenna combines a small form factor, low-profile lightweight and reliable performances thanks to the electronic scanning. The antenna is based on ViaSat Hybrid (VH) active phased array technology that combines efficient electronic and mechanical beam pointing to achieve very fast and robust tracking capabilities, and a minimization of the physical size. The small footprint, height and weight of the antenna allow an easy installation also on small vehicles. It is composed of two apertures, respectively for Rx (55cm diameter) and Tx (48cm diameter) functions.
Several requirements are especially challenging, such as the mass, overall dimensions, compliance with ground mobile environments and unit cost.
From the analysis of the needs expressed by customer and the hardware available, ViaSat has identified a business opportunity for small-sized SatCom terminals with high data rate capabilities and low-cost connectivity.
Thanks to the development of dedicated small-sized terminals for aircrafts and boats we have demonstrated hardware competitive with L-band MSS systems in the airborne and maritime segments. With the suitable technical solution we believe we can successfully compete also in the land-mobile segment.
- A comparable size and thickness with the typical L-band terminals used for Land applications. This form factor can be fit on most of terrestrial vehicles.
- A service equivalent to the one offered with the small reflectors on large business jets and boats, i.e. higher data volume and higher speed at a much lower price than alternative user terminal
- A lower pricing with respect to typical VSAT type terminals and not far from the price of L-band products and other commercial Ku-band terminals like the KVH-V3.
These attributes together form a unique selling proposition that will result in a successful commercialization, a conjecture supported by the sales of the airborne and maritime terminals.
The ViaSat Hybrid (VH) array antenna concept combines electronic and mechanical beam steering system. The beam of the antenna is oriented electronically (no physical movements) along the elevation and polarization axes, while it is rotated mechanically in azimuth. The architecture of the antenna is shown is composed of three main parts:
- Antenna apertures: including radiators, amplification, filtering and electronic beam scanning circuitry.
- Mechanical platform: including Azimuth mechanical rotation, structural support and mounting fixtures
Automatic Control Unit: process attitude and/or signal information and steer the antenna beam. The ACU includes internal sensors measuring angular rotation and acceleration that maintain the pointing of the antenna beam in mobile conditions, plus it receives information from external devices, either from an IMU or signal quality information, to determine the position of the satellite.
The plan consists of the following phases:
- Definition of the product requirements
- Detailed design of the product
- Production of breadboard model
- Production of several prototype units
- Testing and validation of prototypes
Following the SRR, we are performing a final review of the requirements and in parallel we are in the Detailed Design phase of the project.