Broadband Data Converters Uniquely Enable Ka-Band RF Softwarisation in Space

This article describes market disruptions currently faced by the space industry which may not only upend current commercial assumptions, but herald significant changes in the way that space-borne infrastructure is architected and operated in future. The hypothesis is that market forces and technology trends point to a necessary focus on substantially more flexible multi-mission platforms hereafter. These SoftSats, differ over existing satellites as their operating parameters and air interfaces are soft coded (i.e. determined primarily by software) as opposed to hardwired as is prevalent in today’s hardware. In so doing, operators will gain access to resilient, agile platforms that will help protect their technology investment conveying to them greater market responsiveness over time. Moreover, the market will benefit as these innovations are expected to reduce space access costs through more standardization, enhanced flexibility, and system re-use. A key enabler for SoftSats are new broadband data converters that, for the first time, promise direct Kaband access eliminating intermediate frequency radio stages and delivering the hitherto impossible promise of RF softwarization to this critical spectral band. The engineering steps towards such complex broadband components are detailed along with initial results from the first two proof of concept designs evaluated under lab conditions. The conclusion is clear, the time is right to reassess architectural choices and prepare for Softsats. Production-worthy sample components will see the light of day in late 2021. Meanwhile current prototypes enable further experimental work to continue apace.
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Space Missions - A list of all Space Missions

esa

Name Date
Altius 01 May, 2025
AWS 01 Mar, 2024
Eutelsat Quantum 30 Jul, 2021
Sentinel 6 21 Nov, 2020
Cheops 18 Dec, 2019
EDRS 06 Aug, 2019
Small Geostationary Satellite 17 Nov, 2018
BepiColombo 20 Oct, 2018
Aeolus 22 Aug, 2018
Sentinel 3B 25 Apr, 2018

isro

Name Date
EOS-2 07 Aug, 2022
EOS-4 14 Feb, 2022
EOS-3 12 Aug, 2021
EOS-1 07 Nov, 2020
RISAT-2BR1 11 Dec, 2019
Cartosat-3 27 Nov, 2019
Chandrayaan II 06 Sep, 2019
RISAT-2B 22 May, 2019
Resourcesat-2A 07 Dec, 2016
AstroSat 28 Sep, 2015

nasa

Name Date
NEO Surveyor 01 Jun, 2028
Libera 01 Dec, 2027
Europa Clipper 10 Oct, 2024
SpaceX CRS-29 09 Nov, 2023
Psyche 13 Oct, 2023
DSOC 13 Oct, 2023
Psyche Asteroid 05 Oct, 2023
Expedition 70 27 Sep, 2023
SpaceX Crew-7 25 Aug, 2023
STARLING 18 Jul, 2023