European Space Agency

Objectives

  • To exploit unique IP, based on transformational optics, to deliver a production-ready, multi-beam, low-profile, all-electronic scanning, Ka band satellite ground terminal suitable for Land or Maritime mobility applications.
  • To complete the product design and industrialization-readiness, in preparation for commercial exploitation.
  • To validate performance and demonstrate functionality in a real-world, use-case scenario to confirm the product is suitable for the target markets.

Challenges

New antenna technology is required to unlock the full potential of the new high throughput satellite systems coming online.  The challenge for ground infrastructure terminals is the ability to easily access multi-orbit, multi-band satellite capacity over a single antenna, with the required performance, at the right cost and in time to meet the market demand.

Benefits

Isotropic’s product-offering is being developed in anticipation of the massive increase in satellite connectivity following the introduction of new, multi-orbit constellations around 2022. The product makes it possible for satellite operators and industry service providers to offer value-added services to end users that include simultaneous connectivity across GEO, MEO and LEO networks. Coupled with the improved scanning performance in a low-profile design with no moving parts, the flexible design topology lends itself both to fully integrated terminal solutions for Land and Maritime applications, and as a licensable building block for Aero applications.

The digital design approach also facilitates the introduction of software-enabled features that can be customised either to the platform, application or service offering. 

Features

Isotropic’s unique beamforming methodology leads to an advanced product feature-set that includes;

  • Low-profile design with no moving parts.
  • Multiple simultaneous beams (each with the full power of the aperture).
  • Lower power per beam.
  • Full Commercial and Government frequency band coverage with up to 500MHz instantaneous bandwidth.
  • Increased scanning performance (down to 20 degrees Elevation, with lower scan roll-off).
  • Digital beam forming with flexible interface to accommodate integrated, software-enabled terminal solutions.

System Architecture

The terminal will be constructed as a phased array of dielectric lens modules. The lens modules contain the lenses themselves with the supporting feeds and front end (LNA or HPA) amplifiers and the digital beamformers. The modules are interconnected via a backplane that carries the power, digital signal streams, and command & control data. The array will be contained within a housing below and radome above, which also contains the power supplies, modem(s), and controller modules. The terminal will be self-contained, with no external BUC, LNB, or modems required. External modems can be connected if desired (i.e., the user already has a modem), but the expected usage will be with modems installed in the internal modem bays. 

Plan

The project is split over two phases – Technology and Product, and is spread over approximately 2 years. The Technology phase includes 3 distinct Test Bed builds in order to de-risk the fundamental aspects of the technology as pre-cursors to moving into the Product phase when the results of that de-risking will be implemented in the first full product build. This will be iterated as key elements of the design mature ahead of the industrial-readiness activities. Product launch is planned for Q2 2022.

Current status

The project has completed Requirements Review, Systems Definition Review and Preliminary Design Review and is preparing for Prior-Work Review with ESA.

The project is progressing towards the Critical Design Review which involves initial build and test of high-risk sub-components and sub-systems as required to provide confidence in the design passing through the milestone.

Status date

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 13:18