The Satellite Conference and Exhibition was launched in 1981 to connect and unite the satellite industry and continues to be one of the largest business gatherings, innovation platforms and media events of the year for this industry. Satellite 2024 had about 450 exhibitors and close to 15,000 total attendees. The event was busy the first couple of days and the themes we saw were the hybridization of networks, integration of multiple orbits, adoption of direct-to-device connectivity, shift to small satellite networks, adoption of higher frequencies and proliferation of beam steering antenna array systems. Don't miss our photo gallery here:

We spent our time in the exhibition talking to companies about the products and technologies. Here are some of the highlights:

ALifecom announced the release of its Non-Terrestrial Networks IoT Platform at the event. This platform is the first integrated solution embedding a channel emulator into ALifecom’s NE6000 network emulator to effectively simulate and test NTN communications within a small form factor, user-friendly and cost-effective solution. The ALifecom NE6000 network emulator has been upgraded with the latest 3GPP release 17 standards to support NB-IoT communication over non-terrestrial networks. The NE6000 combines an Evolved Packet Core (EPC), evolved NodeB (eNB), and an integrated channel emulator that accurately replicates real-world signal propagation conditions for comprehensive testing and validation of IoT-NTN devices.

054.jpgARA celebrated its 60th anniversary with a new website showcasing the company’s growth from an RF communications antenna business to a C5ISR provider with cross-market capabilities. In the past few years, ARA has made strategic acquisitions of two small but powerful technology companies - AQYR and SI2 Technologies - to enhance its offerings, create a technology innovation center, and launch a suite of communications solutions for its verticals: Military Communications, SATCOM, Electronic Warfare and Radar. On display was an array of their next-generation tactical SATCOM terminals offering multi-band, multi-orbit and multi-constellation solutions for on-the-pause and on-the-move comms.

Cinch Connectivity was demoing their latest connectivity solutions for attenuators, cable assemblies, coax connectors and terminations, all of which play a crucial role in ensuring reliable communication and data transmission in space applications. With a wide array of product lines to address the needs of low earth orbit, geosynchronous orbit, medium Earth orbit, ground support and launch systems, Cinch provides high-quality, competitive solutions by utilizing our global team of expert engineers and quality personnel.

Cubic Defense was showing off SATCOM Solutions: TRAC Multi-Orbit Terminal, CapoSAT Storm V3 Mobile SATCOM, Foldable and Inflatable Satellite Terminals, SATCOM Hub-as-a-Service and Halo Digital Beam Forming Antenna System; Edge Baseband Solutions: Command Post to Vehicle Operations, Real-Time Language Translation, and Mission Partner Environment; and Microelectronics Solutions: Nuvotronics’ mmWave systems. We talked with Nuvotronics who has changed their strategy and now offering standard products to the market. They have filters, mmWave packages, couplers/combiners and wideband antennas. Their unique PolyStrata process provides high-performance, low SWaP components and sub-assemblies.

ERZIA was showing off their new product in their updated catalog including wideband LNAs, high power amplifiers, switches and mixers. They have a large offering now of standard products that can be customized for various applications. They have a line of SATCOM converters for X-, Ka-, Q- and V-band. They have one of the broadest offerings of high-frequency devices in the industry.

Filtronic designs and manufactures RF and mmW components and subsystems for mission-critical communications networks. They have a broad product portfolio but specialize in power amplifiers, transceivers, MCPs, SiPs, MMICs and filters operating to 114 GHz. The company won the “Company to Watch” award at the annual Satellite Mobile Innovation Awards. The award entry focused on Filtronic’s Cerus 32 SSPA, which is part of a family of amplifiers for E-band applications.

Greenerwave is a French startup founded in 2016 to promote research into shaping electromagnetic waves using smart materials and deep-physics algorithms. The company has been working with the concept of reconfigurable smart surfaces from the field of optics to that of telecommunications. They have released their first proof-of-concept of an intelligent indoor environment enhanced by a wavefront shaping approach. Using cost-effective intelligent reconfigurable materials, off-the-shelf electronic components and proprietary physical algorithms, Greenerwave shifts the system complexity from hardware to software. Greenerwave is applying its technology and techniques to a wide range of applications, from RFID and 4D RADAR imaging to steerable electronic antennas for SATCOM and 5G-6G.

Hanwha Phasor released its land antenna, for mobile communications, the Phasor L3300B, at the event. It is an active electronically steered antenna (AESA) that has been developed for commercial and military use. This announcement marks the first time that Hanwha Phasor’s land antenna solution will be available for commercial and defense use, offering users uninterrupted communications regardless of the environment. This is as a result of dual simultaneous receive channels, meaning the antenna can form connections with new satellites before breaking its current connection. The flat-panel design weighs 30kg and is 150 mm thick making it an ideal option for Armed Forces personnel and first responders operating in contested and high-intensity environments.

20240319_145744.jpgHughes Network Systems announced that its JUPITER™ 3 satellite is providing services to subscribers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina and Colombia. Launched in July 2023, the satellite soon reached its position at the 95 West orbital slot and underwent extensive testing. After successfully completing the tests, JUPITER 3 entered commercial service on December 19, 2023. In the 90 days since Hughes has launched new HughesNet services across the Americas for both consumer and business users. JUPITER 3 provides speeds up to 100 Mbps. With more than 300 spot beams, the geostationary satellite uses the Ka-band spectrum plus Q-band and V-band for gateways. JUPITER 3 is supported by a state-of-the-art cloud-based ground system featuring a diverse private fiber backbone and network and traffic management utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) that monitors traffic and makes real-time changes to reduce latency and maximize throughput. They also announced that the Republican Center of Space Communication has chosen the Hughes JUPITER™ System ground platform to help close the digital divide in Kazakhstan. Hughes will supply JUPITER System equipment to more than 200 villages throughout the country, helping communities access broadband internet connectivity and e-government services through the Digital Kazakhstan program. The contract will be fulfilled through TIMIR LLP.

Infineon products and solutions are engineered for optimal performance and longevity in extreme environmental conditions, including exposure to severe ionizing radiation in space. Infineon’s rad-hard space memory, power conversion and RF solutions are part of virtually every spacecraft in flight today. Their unique high-reliability space portfolio spans rad-hard memory, rad-hard MOSFETs, rad-hard power ICs, space-grade solid state relays, rad-hard synchronous rectifiers, space Schottkys and rectifiers and rad-hard microwave transistors and diodes. Together with our IR HiRel subsidiary, they offer global customers a wide selection of high-reliability and rad-hard solutions qualified to DLA and ESA standards. Some featured products include their radiation-tolerant N-channel power MOSFETs in plastic packages for LEO missions and mega-constellations. The product family offers four different N-channel MOSFETs based on the Infineon CoolMOS superjunction technology well-suited for fast-switching applications. International Rectifier HiRel has a new R9 superjunction technology platform that offers notable size, weight and power improvements over prior rad-hard MOSFET generations, delivering superior performance and efficiencies with a well-known silicon gate drive setup. They were featuring evaluation boards for open loop dual output gate drivers with R9 FETs and open loop high- and low-side gate drivers with BUY65CS08J-01.

Keysight featured the following demos:

  • Deliver ubiquitous satellite communication to the masses with Keysight's 5G NTN solution portfolio.
  • Dramatically improve the speed of calibration, verification and parametric tests for your phased array antenna.
  • Bridge digital and RF domains with a digital wideband transceiver test solution.

Kymeta announced the Osprey u8 HGL, a hybrid geostationary/low Earth orbit (GEO/LEO/LTE) terminal purpose-built for military users and is shipping out of their facility in Woodinville, Washington. This marks the first commercially available multi-orbit terminal and the first multi-orbit terminal on Eutelsat OneWeb’s LEO network. Kymeta announced the official launch in October last year and is fulfilling a backlog of orders. The Osprey u8 HGL includes a field-swappable modem cartridge and a OneWeb modem to enable connectivity with the Eutelsat OneWeb LEO network. At launch, an iDirect 950mp cartridge is available enabling TRANSEC services over GEO. Other cartridge configurations will be available soon enabling end users to customize their terminal configuration based on their mission needs.

IMG_6426.jpgMACOM Technology Solutions designs and manufactures semiconductor products for a wide variety of industries. MACOM has a broad product portfolio that incorporates RF, microwave, analog and mixed-signal and optical semiconductor technologies. The company touts more than 70 years of application expertise with multiple design centers, Si, GaAs and InP fabrication, manufacturing, assembly and test, facilities. MACOM has recently closed/announced acquisitions of Wolfspeed’s RF business and Linearizer Communications Group. They were showcasing their total product line along with the products and capabilities of the recent acquisitions.

Maury Microwave was featuring interconnect solutions, which include cable assemblies and adapters, which ensure highly reliable, repeatable measurements for advanced wireless technologies. In addition, demonstrations featuring products from Boonton, dBm, Holzworth, and Noisecom highlighted physical layer testing throughout the uplink/downlink RF and microwave path for satellite communications systems. A demonstration on the bench showed examples of these measurements, including propagation delay and 5G TDD network timing, noise tolerance testing, satellite amplifier linearity, phase noise analysis and characterizing antenna performance. The Boonton RTP5000 Real-Time USB Peak Power Sensors to 40 GHz; dBm ACE9600 Advanced Channel Emulator; Holzworth HA7062D Real-Time Phase Noise Analyzer; and Noisecom UFX7000B Programmable Noise Generator were used for the setup that test uplink and downlink testing for satellite communications systems. Antennas are critical components for reliably communicating information. They demonstrated how the Boonton RTP5000 Series Real-Time USB Peak Power Sensors provide a simple, convenient method to characterize antenna performance in satellite systems. Peak power sensors can monitor the incident power of a communications signal before transmission and the portion of the signal power reflected back from the antenna. Return loss is used to measure this difference between forward power and reflected power.

Micross offers access to our 2.5D/3D technology platform through joint development projects, prototyping services and small-volume production. Our 2.5D/3D integration technology platform is based on several enabling process modules, which include: Through-silicon via (TSV) interconnects; High-density 3D IC applications, filled 2-10 μm diameter, up to 8:1 aspect ratio and 10-50 μm pitch; Lower density 2.5D/3D package architectures, 10-50 μm diameter, aspect ratio of 4:1 to 6:1 and 50-500 μm pitch, vias can be filled or barrel coated; Wafer thinning (to < 20 μm Si thickness) and processing on temporary carrier wafer; Flip-chip and high-density metal-metal bonding, down to <10 μm pitch; and Large-area multi-level metal routing with standard RDL (down to 10 μm L/S) or dual damascene process (down to 6 μm L/S).

mmTron announced the TMC215 power amplifier (PA) provides 45 W output power at P1dB with 24 percent power-added efficiency (PAE) across 27 to 31 GHz designed for the Ka-Band satellite uplink band. The three-stage GaN MMIC delivers >20 W of linear power with a 19 dBc noise power ratio (NPR). The design has 23 dB small-signal gain and is well-matched to 50 Ohms. With a wide operating bandwidth, from 26 to 32 GHz, the TMC215 is also useful for fixed wireless access/5G infrastructure and test instrumentation. The recommended drain bias is 28 V and 3 A current, although the bias can be reduced to 18 V while maintaining 25 W output power with good PAE and linearity. The TMC215 is available as a die (5 mm x 4 mm x 0.1 mm) for integration in a multi-chip module with on-chip DC blocking capacitors at input and output and built-in ESD protection. The bond pad and backside metallization are Au-based, ensuring compatibility with standard wire bonding and die-attach methods.

Neuraspace provides a suite of products including a real-time automated space traffic management system, operations software for routine space mission support and sustainable mission design tools emphasizing early integration of sustainability. They have a platform that facilitates coordination among satellite operators and they also offer a data-as-a-service product that helps with space situational awareness. While their products focus on software more than hardware, the space situational awareness topic is becoming increasingly relevant as more satellites are launched into orbit.

IMG_6415.jpgQuadsat has partnered with Eutelsat Group to define a new method for conducting Earth Station Verification Assistance (ESVA) tests. QuadSat’s measurement technology enables earth station operators to conduct a comprehensive test of fixed earth stations whose measurements are recognized by Eutelsat Group as part of the station authorization to operate on its GEO fleet, without the need for additional testing. This solution will extend the variety of antennas that can be tested, which have been a challenge to test up to date. The Quadsat system is capable of testing across frequency bands, from L to Ka. Users will now be able to conduct any of the required measurements required by Eutelsat Group’s ESVA test procedure, which includes earth station transmit and receive radiation patterns, gain, EIRP, polarization isolation, and G/T.

Quantic Electronics Quantic focuses on mission-critical electronics. They were showing their portfolio of RF & microwave, power, sensing and magnetic solutions. They were spotlighting their high-reliability custom magnetic solutions, thin-film resistor technologies like OhmegaPly® and TCR that integrate resistors into the copper circuitry, RF/microwave filters and switched-filter solutions, passive RF & microwave low and high-power components and subsystems and fully integrated beamformers and butler matrices.

Reticulate Micro announced that it has joined the Waveform Architecture for Virtualized Ecosystems (WAVE) Consortium. Formed under the auspices of IEEE-ISTO, WAVE envisions a future where SATCOM networks are built on agile, scalable and cost-effective commodity platforms, enabling rapid acceleration of innovation in network services and operations to bring a more competitive and vibrant supplier ecosystem. Other industry founding members include Microsoft, SES, Intelsat, Comtech, iDirect, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and The Space Crowd. On the government side, the consortium includes the Air Force Research Laboratory, (AFRL), the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force, and the Department of Defense Chief Information Office.

The company was demonstrating its VAST™ and VESPER™ capabilities at the show. VAST™ is Reticulate Micro’s open-standards, software-defined encoder that delivers higher compression and lower bitrates capability without reliance on hubs or cloud services. VESPER™ simplifies network management by enabling users to centrally monitor, manage and control terminals across different orbits simultaneously

IMG_6449.jpgRohde & Schwarz has featured a live 5G NTN-NR connection, emulating a LEO satellite access node. The R&S CMX500 OBT radio communication tester simulated the satellite base station in combination with the R&S SMBV100B vector signal generator, which simulates the different satellite constellations with its integrated GNSS option. The R&S CMX500 operates in an interactive callbox mode, allowing users to trigger voice calls alongside RF-related measurements. This test mode highlights the tester’s versatility in evaluating both the performance and reliability of 5G connections under different conditions to ensure that future NTN-NR devices powered by MediaTek’s NTN test platform will work anywhere in the world. The Rohde & Schwarz NTN Netop test solutions have been accepted as part of the NTN Certification Program of Skylo, a pioneer in NTN. The Netop product now has a suite of 64 validated test cases that address the unique challenges of satellite communication, including variable orbital dynamics and the resulting Doppler shifts and delays. The test cases cover a variety of orbit scenarios, including GEO with variable delay and Doppler effects, in different SINR conditions. The Netop test suite meets the stringent requirements of the Skylo test plan, ensuring that chipset, module, and device manufacturers can seamlessly validate their products for Skylo's NTN.

Safran was featuring their GSG-8 GNSS Simulator, an advanced software-powered turnkey simulator, supporting multi-constellation, multi-frequency and hundreds of satellite signals. With a 1000 Hz iteration rate, the GSG-8 GPS Simulator is ideal for space trajectories, custom PNT signals, hardware-in-the-loop and any type of all-in-view satellite simulation. With the GSG-8 Simulator, you can generate RF signals to simulate how your receiver device will react in the real world, under the simulation parameters that you set. Control every aspect of your simulation, including 6 Degrees of Freedom receiver trajectories, multi-vehicle simulation, multi-path signals, jamming and spoofing, as well as atmospheric interferences. The GSG-8 is the most popular positioning, navigation and timing test solution offered through Safran’s GSG family of Skydel-based simulators. It was developed to deliver the highest standard of Global Navigation Satellite System signal testing and sensor simulation performance in an easy-to-use, upgradable and scalable platform.

Skylo has been developed by a group of engineers and scientists from MIT and Stanford in the US, and a deployment team in Finland and India. The team has developed a new way of networking communications using existing geostationary satellites for affordable and continuous coverage, anywhere on Earth. While Skylo did not have a booth at Satellite 2024, we talked to CTO Andrew Nuttall about the NTN and direct-to-device space and what Skylo is doing and planning in partnership with some of the biggest names in the chipset, satellite, module and network operator ecosystem is impressive. This company certainly bears watching.

IMG_6432.jpgTeledyne e2v HiRel announced the availability of a rad-tolerant S-Band low noise amplifier (LNA), model TDLNA2050SEP, that is ideal for use in demanding high-reliability, space and radar applications where low noise figure, minimal power consumption and small package footprint are critical to mission success. This new LNA, developed on a 90 nm enhancement-mode pseudomorphic high electron mobility transistor (pHEMT) process, is available in an 8-pin dual-flat no-lead (DFN) 2 mm x 2 mm x 0.75 mm plastic surface mount package, and is qualified per MIL‑PRF‑38534 Class K. The TDLNA2050SEP LNA leverages MMIC design techniques that deliver exceptional performance in the S-Band communication channel. The TDLNA2050SEP amplifier delivers a gain of 17.5 dB from 2 GHz to 5 GHz while maintaining a noise figure of less than 0.4 dB and an output power (P1dB) of 19.5 dBm. The device should be biased at a VDD of +5.0 volts and IDDQ of 60 mA and an evaluation kit is also available for customer evaluation.

Telesat and ThinKom Solutions announced an expanded development partnership to certify ThinKom’s ThinAir® Ka2517 antenna for the Telesat Lightspeed Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network. The multi-year agreement calls for the organizations to cooperate on the integration and certification of the Ka2517 antenna with an airborne modem to enable communications across the Telesat Lightspeed Ka-Band LEO network. Telesat estimates that its enterprise-class constellation, paired with the Ka2517 antenna, will deliver over 1 Gbps to the aircraft. Telesat Lightspeed can dynamically allocate multiple Gbps of capacity to areas with high demand, such as congested airport hubs or busy flight routes. This level of connectivity enables robust gate-to-gate, real-time communications for a superior inflight connectivity experience.

Times Microwave Systems was featuring their SiO2 cable assemblies, which are a major advancement in Silicon Dioxide coaxial cable technology. Improvements have been made in the areas of cable design, cable manufacturing technology, glass seal technology and the range of connector types available. This makes Times Microwave Systems SiO2 cable assemblies the most advanced interconnection system available for the toughest interconnect applications. The use of advanced equipment and materials results in the production of a low-loss, high-velocity dielectric with consistent properties from run to run. This results in excellent phase versus temperature and loss versus temperature performance and excellent repeatability of these characteristics from lot to lot. Compared to other cable types, SiO2 cable provides exceptionally low hysteresis, with phase and loss values returning to the same values at a given temperature even after extreme excursions.

TMYTEK was showing their CloverCell 2 x 2 antenna cell that reduces complexity for extremely large array antennas. The 2 x 2 antenna cell has a built-in amplifier and phase control and can be tiled into an 8x8 subarray with an up/down converter and IF/digital interface. This 8 x 8 unit can then be tiled up to form any size array with the desired number of elements to meet the needs of various applications. This reduces cost, enables high ERIP and speeds up design time. It supports multi-beam operations at Ku-Band with built-in antenna control unit for tracking satellites. This is an innovative approach that provides flexibility and reduces cost.

Zero-Error Systems is a spin-off from Nanyang Technological University Singapore and was founded in 2019 by a group of semiconductor industry veterans. Zero-Error Systems provides semiconductor integrated circuits and solutions to enable and enhance radiation hardening and soft error capabilities of electronic circuits. They develop patented, radiation-hardened solutions that safeguard COTS semiconductor devices, which are not designed to withstand the harsh conditions in outer space. At the booth, they were showing their monolithic radiation-hardened latch-up detection and protection (LDAP) IC that detects single-event latch-up defects to protect COTs ICs. This circuitry is based on proprietary radiation-hardened by design and LDAP technologies. Zero-Error Systems says their technology differentiates itself with less than 1 ms response time that allows for the detection of micro single latch-up events and higher protection capabilities.