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?
What is Hi-FLY?
Hi-FLY started in January 2018 with an EU project funding of 6.9 million Euro under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to develop and validate innovative technologies to remarkably improve space on-board data handling and transfer capabilities. Talking primarily about Earth Observation and partly future telecommunications missions, the project consists of 12 world-leading partners from across Europe – combining experts’ knowledge from industry and science.
The plan for achieving Hi-FLY’s ambitious goals is to make substantial advances in all major elements of the data chain, from inter-satellite and on-board network, to payload processing and data compression up to protection, storage and data transmission.
Importance of Hi-FLY
The importance of Hi-FLY right now lays within the steady increase of performance, which will be demanded by rising and developing market participants in satellite communications. The demands, i.e. in cases of IoT-applications (Internet of Things) with manifold users and high data exchange rates are increasing and the continuous demand for better ground resolution, lower revisit periods, lower costs and satellite downsizing is getting louder. Therefore, answers at system and equipment level are essential.
Tesat-Spacecom with its expertise on RF data transmission issues takes care of one of Hi-FLY’s several main objects: Increasing RF bandwidth to allow data transmission with a rate of up to 10 gigabit per second.
The next generation of RF data link requires full exploitation of Ka-Band frequency band (25.5 to 27 GHz, bandwidth 1500 MHz). The considered RF downlinks have time-variant channel characteristics that are mainly caused by rain fading and by time-variant free space loss. To maximize the throughput in such downlinks channel adaptive coding and modulation (ACM) shall be employed. To pave the way for Earth observation applications within Hi-FLY an RF link will be designed and demonstrated, which will be capable of transmitting Earth observation data at a rate of up to 10 gigabit per second.
The extremely high data-rate can only be achieved through considerable technology enhancements – especially by the use of bandwidth efficient modulation schemes and highly efficient coding schemes. A highly integrated SSPA (Solid State Power Amplifier) RF power amplifier shall be part of the system architecture, allowing an innovative approach in terms of volume and mass of the hardware equipment.
The big aim is to build a hardware demonstrator of the complete RF chain, also including the ground station receiver, which will be embedded in a complete hardware demonstrator of the overall data chain onboard. Here, a significant challenge will be the development of adequate high-speed digital interfaces required between building blocks within the overall architecture.
To test the new architecture, realistic conditions for the end-to-end demonstration will and can be created by an emulation of the RF free space transmission. This enables the opportunity to compare various modulation and coding schemes with respect to their suitability for the envisaged high data-rate downlink applications. In the end, the RF link will be verified in terms of data-rate capability, RF signal characteristics and bit-error-rate.
The project website can be accessed via http://www.hi-fly.eu.
Hi-Fly on Twitter @HiFLY_EU
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innvovation programme under grant agreement No 776151