The Future of Satellite Communications

Satellite Communications

Satellite CommunicationsPredictions about the future are uncertain because of the many factors that come into play. In the satellite industry, trends for increasing capacity, availability, flexibility, affordability, and ergonomics, among things, is a clear reality because of technological advancements.

Satellites have come a long way since the launch of Sputnik I; the technology has bridged the world into a global village where distance no longer matters when communicating. Innovations keep moving forward to make lives better and keep people connected wherever they go.

Higher Power Levels

The power of spacecraft platforms is increasing because of the development of solar battery and array technologies; these are not only getting better but are also affordable. The more power a satellite has, the faster its improvement in link budgets and better payloads.

Satellite antennas benefit from this power increase, as it may carry more antennas on board and transmit higher RF power levels. However, these come with a caveat: there will be difficult multipactor and Passive Inter Modulation requirements.

V-Band and Wider Bands

Singtel Satellite cites that higher capacity systems need higher bandwidths. The level of difficulty in designing antennas increase with the bandwidth as a portion of higher center frequencies and center frequency is important. The V-band, higher frequencies, provides substantial potential for improving system capacity. The definition of V-band is around 40 to 75 GHz, for communications satellites this transmits down-link signals between 40-46 GHz and receives up-link signals around 48 to 56 GHz.

Reconfigurable Antennas

In-orbit reconfigurability is gaining popularity in FSS/DBS communications satellites over the years. Operators would want to be able to reconfigure their spacecraft in orbit to deal with traffic requirements, reassign it to reach a different service or the same region in a different location. Reconfiguring antennas are possible through mechanical, electronic or hybrid (a combination of the two) means. Concepts that use controllable reflect arrays are undergoing studies for feasibility. The technology may eventually become sufficient for commercial communications satellite use.

The advancements in technology will further widen the reach of mobile and wireless devices and make connecting with others faster and easier.