A lightweight and compact High Power Amplifier which can amplify V-band signals to be transmitted over long distances, enabling high frequency satellite-to-satellite links

About

The rapid growth of the satellite industry over recent years has resulted in a serious shortage of bandwidth availability in the lower frequency bands. Moving into the higher frequency Ka Band (26 – 40GHz) is currently providing a solution to this problem, but will not be suitable to sustain the growing demand for applications that require high throughput in the future. Other bands must therefore also be considered. Moving up the satellite spectrum, the Q/V-band (33-75 GHz) is considered the next frontier and can open up new possibilities for the fast deployment of telecommunications infrastructure. V-band systems are essential for enabling cube sat constellation ground communications, however, use of the V-band has historically been limited as it is part of the Extremely High Frequency (EHF) area which is prone to signal attenuation. The space and ground hardware required for V-band systems is not yet commercially available.

Industry leaders such as SpaceX and Telesat have already been granted approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand their constellations by allowing more satellites in the V-band spectrum. These thousands of V-band satellites are only likely to grow in number with Boeing, OneWeb, O3b, and LeoSat also angling for expansion into the V-band.

STFC is designing a high power amplifier (HPA) which operates in the V-band and amplifies a small signal to a significant level, allowing modulated waves to be sent over long distances. The HPA uses Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology to enable a compact, lightweight and robust system which can achieve high output at high frequencies. The HPA is expected to initially provide a 40dBm output power at 50-55GHz which will be extended in the future. This will allow satellite-to-Earth links or the commercialisation of satellite-to-satellite links.

A funded project to design the V-band power amplifier is in progress and due to be completed in the coming months. This includes the package design, CNC machining and assembly, the design and build of a test platform, and testing.

Key Benefits

• High signal output at V-band frequencies
• Compact
• Lightweight
• Robust

Applications

• Telecommunications
• V-band satellite-to-Earth links
• V-band satellite-to-satellite links
• High throughput satellite applications
• 5G and 6G mobile networks

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