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Q/V band earth segment LInk for Future high Throughput space systems

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - QV-LIFT (Q/V band earth segment LInk for Future high Throughput space systems)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2017-10-31

The primary objective of the QV-LIFT project is to develop the foundation of the Ground Segment Technology for the future Q/V band Terabit SatCom systems.
Focusing on this objective, the project is committed to increase the maturity level of key satellite communication technologies and to contribute to a more competitive positioning of SatCom European manufacturers in the marketplace in many ways.
To reach this ambitious goal core technologies are investigated and developed at two levels of the communication stack: hardware and network.
At the hardware level, key RF building blocks and subsystems in the Q/V band are foreseen to fill a specific and well known European technology gap.

The hardware QV-LIFT subsystems development includes:

• A ground station integrated with the existing Q/V band stations operated by ASI.
• An aeronautical terminal

To develop the subsystems several RF building blocks are being developed:
o High performance pedestal
o GaN power amplifiers
o Block up converter
o LNB
o Antennas

At the network level, to support handover of communications among multiple gateway nodes, a Q/V band smart gateways management system is under development which is able to counteract the propagation impairments which presents one of the main obstacles in the deployment of the Q/V band feeders system.

Both hardware and network developments will be integrated and tested on Alphasat using Aldo Paraboni payload, the sole existing test payload operating in the Q/V band.
During the first year of the project there has been significant progress in terms of the system analysis and application context of QV-band links as well as associated technological developments. In particular,
detailed studies have been performed on two scenarios for future QV-band missions. Based on the selection of a Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) and a Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) scenarios, link budgets and system specifications have been defined. A market research of the available and future products for VHTS communication systems and mobile services in Q/V bands from the main worldwide manufactures has been performed; this is helpful in identifying the level of maturity of QV-band technologies across different building blocks in the EU and globally (including modems & GW management systems, Earth stations, RF electronics, mobile terminals) and, critically, is valuable in identifying added value generated by QV-LIFT.

As part of the system level studies, during the 1 st year QV-LIFT has also performed a mapping of the test scenarios available with the existing infrastructure (i.e. the Aldo Paraboni payload) to a real life scenario
such that meaningful outcomes can be obtained by the project.
Fixing the test scenarios further allowed to finalize the specifications for the hardware development. On this front, the first year of the project has seen good progress with the design of state-of- the-art power amplifier MMIC chipsets at 48 GHz in GaN technology. Preliminary results being performed during the preparation of this report indicated achieving the targeted 5W output around 48 GHz with potential for further improvements upon some tuning of the design. In parallel, progress across all digital and analogue hardware has been made. The analogue front-ends are being developed as planned, including finalizing the specifications of the Block Up Converter (BUC) and Low Noise Block (LNB) architectures and development of the related components (e.g. filters, power combiner, mechanical layouts). Progress is also being made on the design of high efficiency antennas and the diplexer. In parallel the architecture of the aeronautical terminal on a tracking pedestal and the Earth station have been finalized and the relevant Interface Control Documents have been produced.

The Smart Gateway Management System is being implemented building on the existing Starfish platform and looking to benefit from innovative Multisite Timeseries Synthesiser for QV-band links.
During its first year, QV-LIFT has redefined state of the art in a number of ways:
- Evaluation of practical QV-band scenarios in FSS and MSS: a thorough mission analysis has been performed for QV-band links in fixed and mobile satellite services deriving expected performance as well as associated technological requirements and specifications
- Competitive analysis: we have reviewed the maturity of QV-band technologies in the EU and globally such that QV-LIFT outcomes can provide added value and uniqueness to the existing state of the art
-Identification of test scenarios: rather than self standing demos of QV-band links, we have mapped future real missions to the capabilities of the available payload. In this way the QV-LIFT tests will represent a valuable testbed directly linked to the anticipated scenario
- State-of-the-art GaN MMIC PA development at V-band: GaN power amplification technology is a key element for European non-dependence. QV-LIFT has designed a state of the art chipset for the OMMIC GaN process with promising preliminary results (on wafer evaluation is ongoing)
- Development of Smart Gateway Management System: extending the capabilities of the existing Starfish product, we have specified the required developments essential to develop a state of the art gateway management tool, which will be informed by innovative Multisite Timeseries Synthesiser

The aforementioned technological developments bring significant potential for economic impact. It has been identified that although well known manufacturers already list the higher frequencies as part of their product list, this does not apply to the specific elements in the areas of development covered by QV-LIFT as the mobile terminal, the SSPA/GaN amplifiers and the smart gateway management system. These aspects will be developed within QV-LIFT providing to the consortium and the European space sector competitive advantages in the race for future higher frequency satellite links. Ultimately, these developments will underpin the role of satellite infrastructure in emerging 5G systems by virtue of e.g. providing broadband services in remote areas or mobile platforms (e.g. aeroplanes).
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