Atlas Area Operations unveils prototype antenna for satellite tv for pc communications

Atlas Space Operations has unveiled a prototype of a scalable RF satellite communications antenna that takes up 10 percent of the space required by comparable hardware solutions. // Photo courtesy of Atlas Space Operations

Atlas Space Operations in Traverse City has unveiled a prototype of a scalable RF satellite communications antenna that requires only 10 percent of the space that comparable hardware solutions require.

The Atlas Antenna is designed to address growth and aging issues in the Air Force’s current space-to-ground communications infrastructure.

The prototype is the result of a contract with the US Air Force’s Space and Missile System Center and in collaboration with the Defense Innovation Unit to develop a multi-band antenna system with multiple missions.

“As satellites continue to grow, the antennas that support the data transmission process need to be upgraded,” said Ed McCarty, Atlas vice president of global sales. “Our team considered all of these requirements – security, multiple simultaneous contacts, and scalability – when building this new phased array antenna function.

According to Atlas, the prototype phased array antenna recently managed to conduct late-stage testing. Using coherent beamforming, Atlas engineers can accept signals from multiple satellites on an array, enabling more efficient satellite communications in a much smaller package.

Because the antenna system uses coherent beamforming, there is no limit to the scalability that can be achieved and, according to Atlas, most systems would require complex degrees of scaling to make this possible. According to the company, this capability is an industry first that has emerged from this initiative.

To date, the team has automatically tracked low-earth orbit satellites and geostationary satellites using multiple simultaneous contacts, with the antenna ultimately providing the ability to scale its performance many times over with a minimal footprint.

The MBMM antenna system was developed to provide a rapidly deployable and inexpensive satellite communication solution. This new technology is able to work in harsh environments, quickly expand existing architectures, and at the same time establish contacts with multiple spacecraft.

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