• 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.

The topic of counterfeit semiconductors and other faked high-tech components has become increasingly explosive in today's world and the latest technical developments. Just last week the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF helps partners seize over one million counterfeit semiconductors in major Joint Customs Operation, 03.07.17) and international media reported about a century coup of European customs surveys and the securing of millions of counterfeit semiconductors.

As a high-technology company and a recipient as well as a distributor of such components, we see ourselves in a special obligation to obtain position: a short interview with Dr. Daniela Staerk, Head of EEE Parts Engineering and Radiation in the EEE Center.

Dr. Staerk, are we as Tesat-Spacecom affected in any way by these developments?

For our classic Hi-Rel EEE components, I can give an all-clear because of our very limited "end-to-end" process for the supply chain. We only procure from original manufacturers or franchised distributors! In the case of the current customs investigation there are components, which have been imported into the EU mainly through postal services or express couriers from dubious sources.

Furthermore, our network is very closely interlinked with suppliers both in the procurement and quality and engineering processes. In the complete process, a very high degree of transparency as well as traceability to the semiconductor wafer and the semiconductor factory are ensured and verified by our incoming goods inspection.

What exactly are counterfeit components?

Basically, all what is covered by the term “suspect counterfeit”, which means that the procurement process cannot entirely be traced back. For this reason it should be absolutely avoided to procure at brokers, who in many cases hardly know themselves who they received the goods from; and this is often not the direct manufacturer, but again another broker, mostly from China or Hong Kong.

On the obvious side a component becomes a counterfeit, if a direct proof can be provided. For this purpose, there are several starting points, such as, fake logos, counterfeit papers, wafer or electronic material from the so-called "gray market" (components declared to be unsuitable and still circulated) or an imitation chip.

Where do you see the reason for the counterfeiting problem on the market?

A main driver for the problem is the Obsolescence, which describes the discontinuation of components, although their needs have not yet been covered by the market. Especially in such emergency situations, one can quickly be tempted to leave the standard supply chain in order to get to the valuable components and to avoid a costly re-design.

Particularly more complex components or integrated semiconductors are expensive and scrap materials can easily be beautified and re-branded. In some countries there is a downright industry of recycling electronic waste. At first sight it is not always visible, whether a component has already been installed and operated for a long time, or not.

In any case of suspicion and action outside the standard supply chain, an enhanced incoming goods process with e.g. Additional analyzes and lifetime tests should be carried out to minimize the risk.

Are there any predictions for the future to deal with this problem?

Unfortunately, the number of new GIDEP (Government-Industry Data Exchange Program) alerts to counterfeit components per year has risen further in recent years. Due to the increased use of COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) components in NewSpace and at low-cost projects, I see a rising risk due to the accompanying increased pressure on price and delivery time. At the same time, the customary transparency and traceability, which we expect from Hi-Rel suppliers, decreases. This makes it all the more important to ensure a clean supply chain process and sufficient quality and reliability tests before the defective parts are installed and cause major damage.

Thank you very much Dr. Staerk.