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Advanced UHF SATCOM Satellite Protection Features


More than 60 percent of Satellite Communications (SATCOM) users are supported by the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band. The Navy’s Communications Satellite Program Office (PMW 146) acquires UHF SATCOM satellites for the Department of Defense (DoD). The current operational UHF Follow On (UFO) satellites will soon be replaced by the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) constellation, which should be fully launched by 2017. Soon the Navy will investigate potential next generation UHF SATCOM systems. Acquisition of the system that follows MUOS will likely start in the next few years. Enhanced protection features will be critical for that system. Since the MUOS satellites were designed, it has become apparent that the space domain “is becoming increasingly congested, contested, and competitive” as described in the National Security Space Strategy. The next generation of satellites must be protected from a number of threats including radio frequency interference. Many previous research efforts have developed technology to protect terrestrial UHF SATCOM terminals. These efforts aimed to protect terminals against local interference in the SATCOM downlink (space to ground link) or against interference in the SATCOM uplink (ground to space link) that was re-broadcast to the ground by the satellite transponder. This effort seeks innovative solutions which are resident on the satellite. The goal is to protect the SATCOM uplink at the satellite instead of protecting the terrestrial terminals. CubeSats or nano-satellites are popular among universities and are gaining momentum with commercial and government organizations. They may be an avenue to demonstrate new electromagnetic interference protection features quickly and at low cost. Such a demonstration path, if applicable to a particular interference protection feature, would likely allow the new technology to be tested in space in time for it to be incorporated into the next generation of UHF SATCOM satellites. If the technology is also applicable to nano-satellites, it could find use in emerging nano-satellite programs within DoD. PHASE I: Determine feasibility and develop advanced electromagnetic interference protection features for future UHF SATCOM satellites. Perform analysis, modeling and simulation, or other calculations to establish performance possibilities. Translate design concepts into a product development roadmap establishing a technical and program pathway to an operational capability demonstration. Tasks under this phase include: • Develop new electromagnetic interference protection concepts for UHF SATCOM satellites • Create an initial design of the protection feature(s) • Characterize and explore system trades • Predict performance parameters • Implement early prototype(s) and demonstrate in a laboratory environment if applicable • Evaluate potential CubeSat or nano-satellite demonstration options, if applicable PHASE II: Develop a prototype electromagnetic interference protection feature(s) and demonstrate it in a space environment. • Evaluate measured performance characteristics versus expectations and make design adjustments as necessary • Demonstrate the performance of the electromagnetic interference protection feature • Demonstrate the technology in a space environment. This could entail integration with a CubeSat or nano-satellite. Another possibility is laboratory based environmental testing such as thermal vacuum, vibration, radiation and other testing. Capabilities demonstrated (e.g. performance characteristics and/or limitations) in Phase II may become classified. PHASE III: Based on Phase I and II effort, finalize design and integrate the electromagnetic interference protection technology into future UHF SATCOM systems.
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