Toronto-based Kepler Communications announced it successfully conducted data transmission tests using a Phasor Solutions wideband electronically-steered antenna and Kepler’s first in-orbit satellites. It could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
“We have a number of customer applications for which we are deploying services today, which would benefit from Phasor’s technology,” Kepler CEO Mina Mitry said. “Our customers, for instance, would benefit from the ability to dynamically and seamlessly switch between satellite networks to optimize traffic management. We also have customer use cases where mechanically actuated antennas are impractical because of their need to operate in extreme environments, so high-gain antennas without moving parts is a huge value-add for our customers.”
Kepler’s KIPP technology pathfinder satellite is a 3U cubesat (30 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm) launched in January. Reported data rates between the ground and the tiny satellite were in the 20 Mbps range, using Ku-band radio frequencies.
One of the (arguably Grand) challenges in low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites constellations is the ability to move data between the ground and fast-moving satellites in the sky, constantly moving in and out of range. Electronically-steerable antenna systems enable tracking of the satellite without large dishes whipping back and forth driven by mechanical motors, especially with broadband applications.
Phasor’s wideband flatbed antenna operating from the company’s test range in the UK successfully demonstrated the ability to auto-acquire, auto-track, and communicate with the KIPP satellite as it passed over, able to track the satellite for its entire pass down to 20 degrees elevation angle. Further tests will be conducted in the days and weeks ahead.
Kepler plans to put up to 140 satellites into orbit by the end of 2021. The company is currently soliciting proposals to launch its first 10 to 15 GEN-1 satellites within the next two years.