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Next-generation digital phased array satcom ground stations.

Over the next decade, tens of thousands of small satellites will be launched into non-geostationary orbits, mostly deployed as constellations. All these satellites need to communicate with the ground at specific, pre-allocated and shared radio frequency bands, increasing downlink capacity from gigabits per second (Gbps) to terabits per second (Tbps).

Ground stations are the epicentre and bottleneck of any space system. A ground station typically comprises a parabolic dish that receives data from a single spacecraft as it passes overhead. The ground station market is aggressively expanding capacity now to cater to the small satellite constellations’ real-time connectivity requirements.

Transitioning from parabolics to digital phased array technologies will enable the industry to scale quickly to meet the demands of satellite constellations. Our solution, a cryogenically-cooled digital phased array, can support thousands of electronically-steered beams simultaneously for transmission tracking and/or adaptive nulling.

This system is a cryogenically-cooled phased array utilising software defined radio tracking and nulling technology, as a satellite ground station service. This creates enormous flexibility and additional degrees of freedom in the availability of data and functionality of space-derived downstream services.

We have several patents related to the system’s core components.

We are exploring options to establish a joint venture with an ‘anchor’ partner to produce systems and operate them as a service. Interested investors are encouraged to contact CSIRO’s Commercialisation team to explore potential investment.

A cryogenically-cooled phased array feed under development.

Technology

  • Software-defined radio backend
  • Cooling enables large trade-off space depending on use case
  • Developed for fully remote operations
  • Can be scaled into a ground station as a service business
  • Established supply chain for the core material of the device.

Applications

The prototype being developed could be used for:

  • commercial satellite communication
  • earth observation
  • radio astronomy and space science
  • deep space and lunar missions
  • national security. 

Intellectual property

The IP that relates to this opportunity is embodied in a wide array of designs, models, prototypes, software, skills, experience and know-how.

There are also three granted patents relating to the background IP:

  • Reconfigurable Self Complementary Array (Inventor: Stuart Hay): Patents have been granted in Australia, China, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Japan, USA and South Africa. The patent family has a priority date of 8 July 2010.
  • Enhanced Connected Tiled Array Antenna (Inventor: Stuart Hay): Patents have been granted in Australia, China and USA, an application has proceeded to acceptance in Japan and there is a pending application in Europe. This patent family has a priority date of 29 March 2019.
  • Hybrid Adaptive Antenna Array (Inventors: John Bunton, Yingjie Jay Guo, Valeriy Dyadyuk and Xiaojing Huang): Patents have been granted in China, Germany, France, UK and USA. This patent family has a priority date of 2 February 2009.

The team

The team comprises electromagnetic, radio frequency and digital engineers, physicists, technicians, software developers and site operations specialists that have developed the background technology over the last 10 years and the next generation prototype technology over the past 18 months.

Could this technology provide you with a competitive edge?

Contact us to find out more about our licensing and investment options.

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