Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, won its third contract in 18 months for its latest advanced GaN SSPAs, bringing the total ordered to more than 350.

SSPAs on satellites are used to amplify the signals from the ground ready to be broadcast down to Earth. Signals such as television pictures beamed from Earth to satellites only have the same power as a Christmas tree bulb when they arrive in geostationary orbit. Satellites must then take the signal, clean it and amplify it more than a billion times before rebroadcasting it, so it can be picked up by small satellite dishes on Earth.

Investment leading to the development of the latest advanced GaN SSPA by Airbus Defence and Space was carried out as part of the European Space Agency’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems programme, which is supported by the U.K. Space Agency.

Designed for use in both communications and navigation satellites, the innovative GaN-based SSPAs have superior performance and 50 percent less mass per W of RF output compared to previous generations of SSPA technology. The flight L-Band SSPAs deliver RF power of 50 to 100 W and are 15 percent more efficient than previous models. In laboratory demonstrations, the latest GaN SSPAs have produced RF power in excess of 200 W in L-, S- and C-Bands. The GaN SSPAs provide high efficiency with excellent linearity in a small footprint and low mass, as required by the market.

Charlie Bloomfield, Airbus Defence and Space’s head of Communication Products U.K. said, “These significant orders prove that the R&D investments we have made over the last few years are paying off, and that our latest GaN SSPA is a true world leader. Our experts are now looking at how we can further improve our design to give customers more power for less mass.”