• Nanosatellite sees the light

    Laser Communications for a new age in space TESAT, KSAT and GomSpace have partnered up to introduce full optical communications capability for new innovative small satellite missions and space-based services.
  • Tesat on the road to success

    Tesat registers increasing order intake Continuing high level of investment in research and development New CEO, Dr. Marc Steckling, expects 20 % growth in the next few years
  • Parts Agency for ORION's European Service Module

    The European Service Module (ESM) Flight Unit 1, a part of the ORION spacecraft, has successfully been shipped from Germany to the US and is now prepared for its marriage with the NASA crew vehicle to be made ready for the launch at the Kennedy Space Center. Not just being a great success for NASA, ESA and Airbus, but also for the Tesat-Spacecom Parts Agency. As subcontractor of Airbus, TESAT is leading the Coordinated Parts Procurement (CPPA) for the European Service Module, which occupies a...
  • Laser Communications Technology from Tesat setting new records

    As the worlds’ only serial manufacturer of in-orbit certificated and tested laser communication terminals, Tesat is chasing its own records. Now another LCT135 terminal has been produced, tested and qualified in record time and is ready for delivery.
  • German space alliance relies on technology from Tesat-Spacecom

    As prime for the scientific-technical payload and responsible for the military repeater, Tesat-Spacecom is responsible for the design, construction and verification of the core elements of the German space mission “Heinrich Hertz”.
  • Live: Launch of Aeolus

    Aladin’s magic lamp ready for take off: After 16 years of preparation and tough technical difficulties, Aeolus is finally ready to go for its final destination in low earth orbit. Weighing 1.4 tons, Aeolus carries the payload “Aladin”(Atmospheric Laser Doppler Instrument), which is based on the concept of LIDAR (Light detection and ranging), a method related to RADAR, but with laser beams for distance measuring instead of radio waves.
  • VDI-Nachrichten: Shining Light

    Recently an editor of the VDI-Nachrichten paid us a visit for his research on laser communications and EDRS-C, having no fear bringing our experts to their limits and asking difficult and uncomfortable questions. The result is an exciting and extensive article with the headline „Lichtgestalt“ („Shining Light“). The article describes our LCT135, which we developed and produced in cooperation with DLR IKN, and its role within Airbus’ SpaceDataHighway. Many thanks to Iestyn Hartbrich for the...
  • Live: Launch of 4 new Galileo satellites

    The final countdown for Tara, Samuel, Anna and Ellen begins: Only 1 hour and 30 minutes until the new Galileo satellites are launched into orbit onboard an Ariane 5 launcher. In short: the European Galileo program is the counterpart to the US GPS system and is though an independent, global satellite navigation system. Tesat-Spacecom's part for the four new satellites was to deliver the essential TT&C transponders, which are being used to properly determine the position of an object in space...
  • Tesat-Spacecom participates in EU research and innovation programme Hi-FLY

    Tesat takes part in European Union’s research and innovation programme Hi-FLY to take RF data links to the next stage. But let’s first clarify: What is the Hi-FLY project? And why is it so important?
  • Gigabit Connectivity for the International Space Station

    Berlin, 26.04.2018: At today’s press conference Airbus Defence and Space, the Institute for Communication and Navigation of the German Aerospace Center (DLR-IKN) and Tesat-Spacecom published their cooperation with the aim to equip the ISS with a high capacity direct-to-earth Laser Communication Terminal.
  • World's smallest Laser Communication Terminal from Tesat on track - CDR...

    Backnang, 12.04.2018: Tesat's Laser Communication Terminal for CubeSats, CubeL, is on track after recently the Critical Design Review (CDR) was successfully held at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen. This was an important milestone for the development program on the way to its demonstration mission, which is planned to launch later this year.
  • 10,000 laser links between satellites established

    Satellite communication reaches new peak Backnang, 11.04.2018: Tesat-Spacecom established 10,000 connections between satellites using its Laser Communication Terminals (LCT). Tesat's LCTs transmit massive amounts of data at up to 1.8 Gbps over distances of 80,000 km in orbit. In addition, the company develops significantly smaller LCTs for Direct-to-Earth applications.
  • Tesat celebrates 10 Years of Laser Communications in Space

    Backnang, 21.02.2018: Exactly ten years ago on 21st February, 2008, a government-to-government cooperation between the United States and Germany to establish a laser link between two operational satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) started a new chapter in the history of space. The German radar satellite TerraSAR-X and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency satellite NFIRE, both equipped with Laser Communication Terminals (LCT) manufactured by Tesat-Spacecom, established the first successful and...
  • Advanced capability evolution for optical Laser Communication

    The LCT135 with its 135 mm narrow aperture is the smallest terminal in the geostationary orbit. Working in a daily routine it is the powerhouse within the European Data Relay System called SpaceDataHighway. Under the ESA ScyLight program Tesat-Spacecom has now spawned the next evolution step for our well known GEO Laser Communication Terminals LCT135, by further developing and implementing new additional features to make even more applications possible. Therefore the GEO LCT135 will get –...
  • Live: Launch of SES-14 and Al Yah 3

    Tomorrow, on the 25th January, at 23:20 CET (live stream starts at 22:05 CET) an Ariane 5 ECA will launch two satellites - the SES-14 and the Al Yah 3 - into a geostationary transfer orbit. A rocket launch per se is a event you don't want to miss, but - needless to say - for us it's always a very special moment when our equipment gets shot into space, such as a variety of Ku- and Ka-Band OMUXes, IMUXes, Switches, Filters and MPMs.
3D Printing

March 2016 – As the first company worldwide, Tesat-Spacecom, one of the largest space technology companies in Germany, has pioneered the application of additive manufacturing techniques, also known as 3D printing, for the production of microwave components. The breakthrough took place within the framework of an activity supported by ESA through the Competitiveness & Growth Element of the ARTES programme.

Additive manufacturing has been used for many years in medical technology for producing, amongst other things, metallic implants and bone and tooth replacements. More recently, this technique has evolved to the stage where high-quality aluminium parts can be produced. In an approach known as Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM), metallic powder is deposited layer by layer, and a high-power laser with a beam size in the order of 1/10 mm is used to weld pre-defined shapes for each layer.

160419 Exponat 2bUp until recently, the application of this manufacturing technique for microwave components was hindered by the roughness of the resulting surfaces, as this resulted in degraded performance. In the ARTES-supported activity, a team from TESAT and Fraunhofer ILT, with the assistance of ESA technical experts, was able to overcome this issue, paving the way to using this technique to produce, for the first time, single-piece microwave components made from aluminium, including filters, couplers, and waveguide runs.

Using this technique, very complex single-piece components can be produced in a short time, at reasonable cost and in small numbers. Almost arbitrary geometries can be produced that are not possible or only very difficult and expensive to obtain with traditional milling techniques.

ESA support for the application of ALM in the European space industry dates back to 2008. In that year, ESA's Payload Engineer Christoph Ernst, and ESA’s Material Expert Laurent Pambagian learned about the then new technique and saw that it had great potential. They organised internal funding to produce a series of microwave parts in aluminium and titanium by means of 3D printing. This success led to a series of development activities supported through the ARTES programme, in which TESAT took part.

"The results of these efforts are quite impressive,” says ESA Microwave Engineer Cesar Miquel Espana, who oversaw the activities. “We are now seeing RF performance equivalent to traditionally manufactured parts, often with reduced mass as well."

 

TESAT’s Dr. Siegbert Martin, Head of Passive Microwave Products:

How is the company currently using ALM techniques?

“Since 2015 ALM has become a part of our daily work. We have started using RF devices made by ALM in our test area. This generates cost savings on the one hand, on the other we learn and understand the technology more and more:”

160419 Exponat 3b

Is it being used for production yet?

“ALM helps us to find test solution faster by special waveguide routings or dedicated filters. Further I observe an interesting transformation in application: At first we start replacing milling production, but now we change our ways of thinking and finding solutions by using the full potential of ALM.”

When will the first mission be?

“The innovation run has been kicked off and we have targeted three additional areas on satellite.

  • Support structures for filter networks
  • ALM is becoming an essential part of our FELXOMUX products”
  • Our new developments have already considered the ALM design guidelines. Thanks this we are very keen to use this new manufacturing technology.

Roadmap for deploying ALM

“The space industry is requesting innovations and we have now a key in our hand to deliver. After further performance evaluation this year, we are targeting to supply FM units in 2017.”

“The space industry is geared towards small series production of complex parts. This is precisely what additive manufacturing is ideal for,” says ESA's Christoph Ernst. “Thanks to this important breakthrough, leading the way to a significant cycle of spacecraft RF hardware optimisation in terms of mass and performance but also to enable quick turn-around of early prototypes and reduce the delivery times.”