OneWeb and SatixFy UK have announced plans to add a digital technology pathway payload that will include a full digital payload into OneWeb’s launch schedule during 2021. This news follows the launch of OneWeb’s first satellites in February 2019, with a regular launch programme due to begin shortly with the aim of delivering global commercial broadband services at the end of 2021.
According to the two companies, the new payload technology will pave the way for satellites with a higher level of flexibility to support peaks in demand efficiently without oversizing the constellation.
OneWeb states that the digital-transparent payload will demonstrate full ‘beam hopping’ capability in the forward and return links, and will include an on board processing subsystem capable of running independent links on the User and Gateway links on the ground with different capacities. Additional features include an electronically steered multi-beam antenna with ‘true time delay’ beam-forming, capable of pointing and switching multiple beams to multiple directions simultaneously.
According to the company, this combination of features enables “significantly higher” throughput to designated areas within satellite coverage, while meeting all national security concerns. The system will dynamically allocate much higher capacity to active areas than areas that do not require as much bandwidth and are just being scanned to gauge demand.
The beam-hopping capability also enables seamless handover for mobile devices, between beams and satellites. An example would be an aero terminal for inflight connectivity, able to operate on both LEO and GEO simultaneously and maintaining ‘make-before-break’ connectivity between the rising and setting satellites. Maximum capacity can be directed from multiple sources to hot-spots such as busy airports.
Advanced discussions are in progress for collaboration and support from the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency.
“We have designed several chip sets across the full satellite value chain, including terminals, payloads and gateways, creating a full eco-system based on our own software,” said Yoel Gat CEO of the SatixFy Group. “This new OneWeb satellite will demonstrate all of these capabilities.”
“This leading-edge satellite will be fully operational and is a great opportunity to showcase what can be delivered with our payload technology,” added Massimiliano Ladovaz, CTO at OneWeb. “The improved performance, greater efficiency and targeted capacity, together with sophisticated ground infrastructure, puts us at the forefront of LEO communications network services.”