Reconfigurable Radio for High-Data-Rate Satellite Communications

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA9453-11-M-0106
Agency Tracking Number: F103-095-0946
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2010
Solicitation Topic Code: AF103-095
Solicitation Number: 2010.3
Small Business Information
PO Box 727, Los Alamos, NM, -
DUNS: 832058775
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Joseph Palmer
 Chief Technology Officer
 (505) 920-7081
Business Contact
 Andrew Gunter
Title: Director of Business Development
Phone: (608) 215-4954
Research Institution
ABSTRACT: A reprogrammable software defined radio (SDR) will be developed for high performance channel coding in future satellite communications systems. The proposed device will make possible robust reprogramming of the radio after launch, thus enabling future satellites to be reprogrammed to adapt to changing radio requirements, and to take advantage of new infrastructure and methods. Today, many new radio systems are SDRs, and nearly the entire radio can be reprogrammed. Adaptive Radio Technologies is ideally positioned to execute the proposed work because we are experts in spacecraft reconfigurable computers and SDRs, such as found on the Cibola Satellite. The proposed work will develop an FPGA-based SDR that is post launch reconfigurable, and is able to be programmed to use a variety of different channel codes. We will use partial reconfiguration in order to reduce the size of FPGA bitstreams that need to be deployed to orbit, thus reducing deployment time, and non-volatile storage requirements on the satellite radio. A successful project will define the requirements for a prototype system to be built in Phase II. An operational version of the proposed SDR will give future satellite missions operational flexibility that has so far been unavailable. BENEFIT: Channel codes are a quickly evolving area of radio engineering. A post-launch reprogrammable radio in a satellite, or other spacecraft, allows the radio system to be upgraded with new channel encoders and/or decoders that were unavailable at the time of launch. Our proposed radio will be capable of post-launch reconfiguration, and the FPGA-based computer is fast enough to handle modern high-performance channel codes, such as Turbo Codes or LDCP Codes. If made commercially available, the proposed radio system will permit a new degree of freedom in future satellite missions. System designers can be more conservative with their radio designs, because they know that the radio can be upgraded post-launch with improved programming. It is not necessary to design the radio such that it can handle all conceivable scenarios and challenges. The ultimate benefit will be the extended mission life of spacecraft due to their obsolescence being preempted through regular radio upgrades. Some potential commercial applications include earth orbit and deep space science spacecraft, satellite command and control uplinks, military tactical radio, and high-speed satellite data downlinks.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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