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

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - QV-LIFT (Q/V band earth segment LInk for Future high Throughput space systems)

Reporting period: 2017-11-01 to 2020-01-31

The overarching aim 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 aim, the project is committed to increase the maturity level of the core satellite communication technologies that will contribute to a more competitive positioning of SatCom European manufacturers in the marketplace.
Core technologies were investigated and developed at two levels of the communication stack: radio hardware and network.
At the radio 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. Redefining European state of the art, QV-LIFT developped GaN monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) technology for the Q/V-band ground segment (50GHz). The developed devices are integrated in solid state power amplifier modules, which in turn are integrated with a block upconverter (BUC) to form the radio transmitter of the ground segment. QV-LIFT also developped an integrated low noise block for the receive radio based on European GaAs technology, as well aeronautical and Earth station antennas, RF filters and high performance pedestals. Integrating the above, QV-LIFT delivers

• A nomadic ground station.
• An aeronautical terminal

At the network level, to support handover of communications among multiple gateway nodes, a Q/V band smart gateways management system is developed. This system is able to counteract the propagation impairments which presents one of the main obstacles in the deployment of the Q/V band feeders system. Together QV-LIFT developed all the baseband signal processing required to perform test campaigns.

Both hardware and network developments were integrated and tested on Alphasat using Aldo Paraboni payload as well as existing ground infrastructure by ASI, successfully demonstrating the operation of a smart gateway diversity as well as the opportunities for avionic connectivity at Q/V-bands
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 1st 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. Experimental results indicated achieving the targeted 5W output around at 48 GHz with potential for further improvements. In parallel all digital and analogue developments has been successfully delivered and QV-LIFT successfully delivered both the aeronautical terminal on a tracking pedestal and the Earth station. The Smart Gateway Management System was also implemented building on the existing Starfish platform benefit from innovative Multisite Timeseries Synthesiser for QV-band links.

The developed ground systems were successfully deployed in test campaigns using the Aldo Paraboni payload and existing ground stations owned by ASI, demonstrating operating scenarios of smart gateway diversity and the potential of QV-band user links in avionics
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
- Live over satellite demonstration of Q/V-band connectivity using European MMIC technology validating the operation of smart gateway diversity as well as the possibilities for avionic connectivity at Q/V-band.

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 QV-LIFT developments provide 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. airplanes) which will facilitate inclusion and contribute to minimize the digital divide.
gateways switching test
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