Arralis announced a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the company’s new Leonis Ka-Band chipset, which will enable massive data rate communications speeds for commercial and science missions. This first phase Ka-Band transceiver chipset contract is worth €650,000, which is awarded under ESA’s ARTES Competitiveness & Growth programme.

Claimed to be the first of its kind the Ka-Band chipset comprises all of the circuits required to build a Ka-Band satellite and ground front-end that will connect easily with high power amplifiers and antennas. Ka-Band is considered the next big thing for satellite technology with its smaller antennas and ground terminals, as well as dramatically lowered costs.

Ka-Band antennas are 400% smaller than their Ku-Band rivals, which opens up the consumer and connected vehicle markets to high data rate and low latency satellite communications. Companies such as Facebook, Inmarsat and SpaceX have recently announced their plans to use Ka-Band to provide broadband services around the globe with the initial SpaceX deployment consisting of an unprecedented 4,425 satellites with Ka-Band payloads.

Michael Harverson from ESA said, “Arralis are developing technologies that are in demand by the global space industry and which form the foundations of European Satellite Communications programmes now and in the future”.

The Leonis chipset was developed to meet the needs of the growing demand for low cost Ka-Band satellite equipment that is simple to interface with current digital internet hardware. Applications include 5G communications, airborne high speed Wi-Fi, low earth orbit mega constellation communications, drone constellations and SAT-Drone-Ground data networks, satellite to automotive connectivity, connected vehicles, last mile and remote internet solutions, and IoT and M2M communications.

Speaking at the announcement at the 2017 Paris Airshow, Barry Lunn, CEO of Arralis said, “We are delighted to continue to deliver the world’s leading satellite communication products to the global industry. This chipset represents ‘new space’ making space technology deliver real benefits back on earth by providing high speed internet for all. ESA have led the charge on this and, along with our commercial early adopters, will be able to ensure that the benefits of our unique technology are reaped by the wider European and Canadian space industry”.

The full transmit and receive band coverage (17 to 21 GHz and 27 to 31 GHz) allows for both ground to space and space to ground applications and employs image cancelling IQ mixers that can be directly interfaced with modulators and demodulators. Both bands have a 21 dBm output power amplifier, an ultra-low noise amplifier, up and down converter mixers and a high output VCO to serve as the local oscillator. In addition, this set is available as a core chip, packaged in a QFN format that will allow a complete RF transceiver to be built with just three chips. An evaluation board is also available to enable developers to quickly experiment and prove designs before committing to production. The devices are all fabricated on a low noise, space-qualified gallium arsenide process to ensure a wide temperature range and long term reliability. The chipset is designed as a one-stop communication solution; from satellite hardware to airborne through to ground.