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Ka-band Satellite Phased Array Antenna


OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate innovative concepts or component technologies for developing a Ka-band phased array antenna. DESCRIPTION: Phased array antennas allow the use of many more arbitrarily positioned communication channels (beams) than would be feasible with gimbaled dishes. Using a phased array antenna, beams can be rapidly re-positioned to give time-shared service to a large number of users. For satellite uplink antennas (receivers), improved anti-jamming protection can be achieved by off-axis pointing and jammer nulling. Together, these techniques improve both coverage and capacity for MILSATCOM applications. Development of a Ka-band phased array satellite antenna with a large number of beams is impeded by both the complexity and high cost of manufacture. There has been substantial work performed over the past decade to support commercial K-band satellite communications phased array antennas. However, there needs to be tailoring for DoD and MILSATCOM use at Ka-band (~30 GHz), particularly for the Wideband Global SATCOM and Advanced EHF systems. These systems can be used by the proposing contractor to establish basic design requirements. Further, recent advances in millimeter-wave electronics and manufacturing technology can contribute to improved design and manufacturing methods for a Ka-band phased array antenna. The fundamental purpose of this research topic is to develop and / or mature concepts and technologies that will reduce cost, schedule risk, and technical risk for a Ka-band satellite phase array antenna. This phased array antenna could be used to provide 30 GHz aircraft-to-satellite uplink capability. A performance goal would be to provide at least 30 uplink channels (beams) from a single antenna. The specific field-of-study for this research is a millimeter-wave phased array satellite antenna. The specific technology need addressed by this research topic is the design and development of Ka-band phased array satellite antennas. Innovative designs, manufacturing processes and/or research activities are solicited to support development of a Ka-band phased array satellite antenna. This can include some combination of innovative assembly methods and higher component integration. Successful phase 1 and phase 2 efforts will provide tools and/or mature technologies that reduce cost and / or improve manufacturability of Ka-band phased arrays. Proposers must demonstrate an understanding of satellite phased array antenna manufacturing, systems engineering, and implementation issues. The technical merit of a proposed concept or research activity must be demonstrated with respect to current manufacturing methods and components. PHASE I: Phase 1 should focus on refining the proposed concept / technology, identifying key technology risks and design uncertainties, and developing mitigation strategies to address those issues in a phase 2 effort. PHASE II: Phase 2 will improve fidelity of models, reduce key technical risks, and show proof-of-concept through breadboard development, testing, and demonstration. PHASE III: Military satellite communication systems can use phased array technologies for protected air-to-GEO communication. Technology innovations supporting the military can readily be modified to transition to the commercial fixed satellite service. REFERENCES: 1. Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) System, SMC Public Affairs Office, Los Angeles AFB,, accessed 26 September 2011. 2. Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS), SMC Public Affairs Office, Los Angeles AFB,, accessed 26 September 2011. 3. Oleski, Paul J., GBS/Milstar Airborne Antennas [remote user terminals],, accessed 26 September 2011. 4. Connolly, D. J., Bhasin, K. B., Romanofsky, R. R., Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit Technology for Space Communications Applications, NASA-TM-100187, 38th International Astronautical Federation Congress, October 1987. 5. K-Band Phased Array Developed for Low-Earth-Orbit Satellite Communications, NASA Glenn,, accessed 26 September 2011.
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