NuWaves Engineering has been awarded a contract to design and manufacture prototype High Efficiency Switching Power amplifiers for Earth Radar Observation Systems (HESPEROS) by NASA, as part of the government agency’s efforts to pursue smaller and more affordable spacecraft.

To meet the multiple mission needs with limited resources of NASA’s Earth Science Division, RF components will need to be smaller and more power efficient. The reduction of size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) of RF components required for a particular mission area allows the instrumentation package to be made more compact. HESPEROS applies several innovative techniques to increase the efficiency and operational bandwidth of RF power amplifiers (PA) targeted for radar applications. The design also incorporates fast turn-on and turn-off circuits to achieve switching times of less than one microsecond (μs). The benefit of such amplifiers in radar applications is that they can be switched off during the receive period to prevent selfgenerated noise from corrupting the received signal. Also, high-power transmit and receive (T/R) switches at the antenna feed can be eliminated.

In addition, the wideband PA enables the design of a multi-band radar, reducing the number of components needed for operation in the P-, L-, and X-Bands. A high-efficiency PA is also key to reducing battery size and cooling requirements in spaceborne applications. Ultimately, other applications for this highly efficient PA for radar based applications include other primary mission critical communication functions like telemetry, telecommand, land and sea radar systems, navigation and guidance control, flight termination, craft-to-craft communications, and TDRSS reply and relay.

“We’re excited to be working with NASA to help drive down the size, weight, and power consumption required for wideband power amplifiers used for radar,” said Jeff Wells, President and CEO of NuWaves Engineering. “These innovations will not only benefit NASA in its pursuit of next-generation spacecraft technologies, but also other government and commercial customers with similar operational requirements."