European Space Agency

QUP - Ka/Q-Band Up Converter

Objectives

In satellite communication new frequency bands are being used to handle more and faster communication. For RUAG Space AB to remain a leading independent supplier of converters and receivers, being able to deliver space qualified converters operating above Ka-band is essential.

The Ka/Q-Band Up Converter Programme objective is to complement and further strengthen RSE’s converter and receiver products by performing following key development activities in the Q/V Converter product area:

  • The design and development of a Ka to Q Upconverter, realized as an EM hybrid.
  • The design and development of converter mixer and PA MMICs.

The design must also weigh in evaluations of manufacturing costs when making initial trade-offs.

Challenges

Manufacturing products for RF signals at very high frequencies drives the requirement for high manufacturing control and accuracy, one area where this is extra challenging is the Q-band WG interface.

Accuracy and attention to details must be fulfilled at the same time as the product needs to be competitive cost wise.

MMIC Design in Q-band (40 GHz) is challenging and will require careful modelling and optimization. Spurious signals suppression, is challenging, and requires use of advanced mixer topologies.

Benefits

The program will make RUAG Space competitive both in Europe and US in the product area.

Features

A small, light-weight hybrid with possibility to use solderless contacts suitable for industrial assembly.

The use of deep access bonding makes use narrow cavities possible and integrated MMIC design reduces the number of interfaces.

Excellent filtering performance with an external filtering solution that can be adapter to an specific frequency plan.

System Architecture

The Converter RF chain comprises four main components:

  1. Input filter
  2. Mixer MMIC including buffer amplifiers
  3. Output filter
  4. Output amplifier MMIC

The nominal gain of mixer MMIC and output amplifier MMIC is based on a converter unit gain of typically 30 dB. The sum of the mixer and output amplifier MMICs nominal gain values gives 10 dB margin for filter and other losses/ tolerances.

A block diagram is given below.

Plan

BDR

July 2016

PDR

Sep 2016

Delta BDR/PDR

Nov 2017

Phase 1 Review

Nov 2019

TRR

Sep 2020

Final Review

Dec 2020

Current status

A Ka/Q-Band Up Converter EM hybrid with MMIC mixer and output amplifier has been designed, manufactured and tested.

The development has included a novel, and also challenging, approach with respect to miniaturization and integration of high frequency functions (+40 GHz). Several new steps, and not always obvious, have been achieved with very promising and encouraging results.

The achieved results have been very successful, and the next step is to develop a fully functional and integrated EQM, including the necessary power supply and LO generator.

Picture of hybrid with mounted filter.

The Project is completed.

Status date

Wednesday, December 16, 2020 - 19:06