Over the past week, Kepler Communications added two new satellites to their constellation and announced a testing agreement with antenna manufacturer Kymeta. The Canadian-based company is now touting it has the largest fleet of satellites (15) in Canada by number, an interesting fact that communications company Telesat could counter on several fronts if it so chooses.
KEPLER-6 and KEPLER-7 were successfully launched onboard a Soyux rideshare mission early on March 21 and in the process of being fully checked out before entering into commercial service. The two GEN1 satellites join with 8 others launched in February onboard a SpaceX rideshare mission. Each GEN1 satellite is 6UXL in volume and support both Ku-band and narrowband spectrum for bulk data transfer and IoT applications respectively.
An additional launch of satellites is planned for June onboard another SpaceX rideshare mission out Florida. In addition to the 12 GEN1 satellites, Kepler also has three pathfinder satellites on orbit, bring the company’s fleet total to 15. However, the various model cubesats are only a fraction of the mass and volume of a single Telesat geosynchronous communications satellite while a typical Telesat satellite will have multiple high-performance broadcast transponders exceeding the aggregate bandwidth of the Kepler fleet.
Kepler Communication also announced successful extended cold weather testing of a Kymeta u8 terminal in Invuk, Canada in “extreme” temperatures, according to the press release. The Kymeta u8 terminal provided average uplink and downlink speeds of 100 Mbps, providing the ability to transfer more than 2GB of data with each pass. In a future software upgrade, circular polarization support is expected to lead to additional increases in data transfer speed.
Other antenna improvements over “earlier products” included lower latency, enhanced look angles and speeds approaching 10 times faster with higher throughput and total data passed. The u8 system is designed to work down to 40 degrees Celsius. Kepler and Kymeta were able to upgrade software to test new algorithms in real time, including the capabilities of the antenna’s onboard FPGA-based tracking receivers.