QuadSAT to benefit from ESA’s ARTES Core Competitiveness programme for an additional €500,000 product phase development project

Odense, Denmark, 16th June 2022 – QuadSAT, a Danish company specialising in test and verification of radio frequency equipment, has announced it has been awarded additional funding (€500,000) by ESA under ARTES Core Competitiveness programme to enter into the product phase development project, thus continuing the successfully concluded technology phase. Within the contracted activity QuadSAT will further develop, validate and certify its UAV testing system, providing the industry with a solution that enables flexible and accurate satellite antenna testing and calibration.


 

QuadSAT’s system is fully automated, flexible, and location independent, making it capable of scaling and transforming how antennas are tested. The systems consist of state-of-the-art drone technology, integrated with a custom RF payload as well as automation and measurement software. With QuadSAT’s drone-based system, a broad range of testing missions can be undertaken, depending on user requirements. This has already been extensively tested, with missions ranging from performing verification of OneWeb’s ground segment antennas ahead of the global rollout of its LEO constellation, to working alongside teams from the European Space Agency’s ESOC mission control centre to complete a measurement campaign of large antennas at Kiruna Earth Station.

 


ESA’s ARTES Core Competitiveness programme helps European and Canadian industry to develop innovative satcom products, service and systems. It provides support at any point of the technology development process, from initial idea to a fully-fledged product, system or service. The programme provides the funding, multi-disciplinary expertise, business knowledge, opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), international consortia and contacts needed to turn the concept into reality. ESA has provided technical assessments and guidance and supported QuadSAT to further develop their concept to a full product.

 


Joakim Espeland, CEO of QuadSAT, commented: “Collaborating with ESA provides us with a platform to further develop and demonstrate our product’s capabilities and validate its efficacy within the satcom ecosystem. It is instrumental in gaining industry recognition for our product. The ARTES programme is an excellent opportunity as it provides organisations with access to ESA resources to accelerate the development of productization. The support we have received from ESA has been exceptional.”

 


Domenico Mignolo, Head of Ground Segment section of ESA, added: “ARTES Core Competitiveness programme was established to support the transformation of innovative ideas into new products within satcom enabling the competitiveness of ESA Member States Industry. Our collaboration with QuadSAT has accelerated its research and product development process and enabled it to validate its accuracy and efficiency to pursue business opportunities. We are glad to support QuadSAT in its product development.”

 


Throughout its work with the ARTES programme, QuadSAT has received ongoing technical support from GVF. David Meltzer, Secretary General at GVF, added, “Product maintenance and quality assurance is crucial in managing satellite communications. QuadSAT’s can provide the industry with an accessible, low-cost tool which can ensure accuracy at the ground segment. The technology not only supports product development and qualification during the design phase, but more importantly, provides the satellite operator with an accurate measure of the equipment performance after its installation in the field. This capability is unique. We’re happy to be providing QuadSAT with technical support. Its partnership with the ARTES Core Competitiveness programme will benefit the industry as a whole.”

 


QuadSAT’s system is a key disruptor within RFI mitigation; its low-cost and flexible solution transforms accessibility to high-quality testing within satcom. The system provides pre- and post-flight software to ensure repeatability, control over the drone during measurements, ease of operation and data delivery in a uniform format. This in-depth testing will provide quality assurance and improve reliability throughout the satcom industry, allowing the industry to deliver the networks required for the connectivity of the future.

 


Thanks to the ARTES Core Competitiveness programme, QuadSAT will work on a productised version of its solution that can be operated directly by users. This will help significantly scale the technology and make test and measurements of satellite antennas much more accessible, anywhere in the world.

 

3 reasons RFI is a current issue within Milsat

Radio Frequency Interference has been a longstanding issue within satellite and the military’s use of satellite communications is not immune from the problem. RFI has been closely monitored for years and the creation of mitigation tools has been prioritised within the industry. However, how does the rapidly changing landscape within space affect RFI in 2022? Here are 3 reasons RFI must be evaluated and addressed with new solutions:

1.    The changing use of multiorbital space 

Lower and Medium Earth Orbits are currently seeing a drastic overhaul in use; mega constellations are being launched, and new entrants are establishing themselves within commercial markets. LEO ground segments are far more complex than those previously seen within satellite. LEO mega constellations are primarily utilising Ku and Ka bands as they offer greater throughput in smaller dishes. The need for test and measurement increases with greater directivity as it increases the likelihood of RFI and the severity of its impact on services. Additionally, due to low orbital altitude, tracking and switching through multiple gateways is standard practice and therefore the monitoring of tracking accuracy and satellite acquisition quality during handovers will be critical in managing the sector’s use of spectrum and preventing RFI within military.  

2.    Multiple constellations using the same bandwidth  

Within GEO, there is usually one entity in a frequency band per orbital slot meaning that coordination mitigates interference caused by ‘border issues’ between satellites in adjacent slots. With LEO, however, we have potentially multiple constellations using the same frequency bandwidth. Each constellation is in multiple orbits and orbit heights. This could potentially lead to valid transmissions from authorized satellites causing interference at any given spot on the earth with the interference being intermittent and different at any given location. Within military operations it will be critical to ensure that operators have access to in-field tools to identify and mitigate RFI.

 

3.    5G’s operational impact on satellite 

5G has delivered fresh challenges within spectrum management, with two industries with differing needs working closely within spectrum. RF noise is a considerable issue caused by the high number of 5G cells required to run an effective network. There is a risk that signals within the wider spectrum will become overloaded. Technology has been developed to mitigate this, however there is anecdotal evidence of satellite signals being negatively affected by 5G responders. 5G adds another layer of risk of RFI and satellite users must take steps to monitor and control its impact to prevent loss of services. 

 

How can satellite manage new RFI challenges?

As the RFI landscape changes to reflect the developing use of space, it is critical that satellite users build robust solutions to safeguard teleports from incidents. Perhaps the most obvious solution: ensuring that the ground segment has access to suitable testing and monitoring technology is key in enabling successful management of the ground segment. Making on-site testing available and cost effective, teleport operatives can utilise accurate results to take the necessary steps to mitigate disturbances with the knowledge that amendments are cost-effective, necessary and will be successful. Great quality equipment paired with rigorous and thorough testing and monitoring solutions is going to be key in mitigating incidents and maintaining reliable communication channels.

 

Drone technology is optimising satellite ground segments through providing high-quality, on-site testing. Meet with QuadSAT at IET Milsatcoms in London on 16th-17th June 2022 to learn more. 

Demonstrating drone-based antenna testing to Cyta, Eutelsat, and Hellas Sat

The last couple of weeks has seen teams from QuadSAT set off to both Cyprus and France to provide in-depth demonstrations of our latest technology. In Cyprus, we provided demonstrations for the dominant telecommunications provider, Cyta, and premium satellite communications solution provider, Hellas Sat. At Cyta’s Makarios Tier-4 certified teleport, we performed antenna tests which comprised of raster scans, azimuth cuts and elevation cuts. We demonstrated our antenna testing and validation for Eutelsat, in which we measured a 3.8m bat wing antenna at distances in excess of 700m. We provided results to each organisation within 7 days, allowing them to receive quick feedback on how their antennas were performing within their own environments.

Maintaining antenna accuracy and its original specified performance is crucial in delivering and maintaining world-class services to customers and performing on-site antenna testing and verification can transform RF management. 

Here are 3 reasons to invite us to demonstrate its drone-based testing system:

1. Review how your antennas are affected by their environment

Environmental factors impact the success of an antenna’s mission; reflections impact the journey of RF signals and can result in RFI incidents. Geographical features such as hills, mountains, trees, and other environmental features, such as other nearby antennas, are potential sources of reflection, even if not in the direct line of sight. Antenna testing within testing ranges clearly can only evaluate the antenna itself, and not the impact of external factors on its performance. Testing on-site using drone-technology is a flexible and effective way of gaining accurate results.

2. Reduce downtime

Downtime is a costly consideration when building testing and verification into schedules. When testing must be performed at a test centre, time and money must be spent transporting the antenna to location, all whilst the antenna is not performing, and therefore not producing revenue. Ultimately, this can even deter ground segment operators from testing altogether, delaying problems and potentially resulting in degradation to services. QuadSAT’s technology is quick to set up and reduces the downtime required to perform antenna testing.

3. Improve cost efficiency within testing

Many antennas are logistically difficult to reach, creating challenges in terms of current testing methods. If an antenna is in a remote area, it can be costly to transport it to a test centre. Additionally, with the introduction of LEO constellations and the resulting increase in the number of ground segments required, costs associated with transporting antennas can quickly rise beyond what is financially viable. Testing and verification performed by drones drastically reduces the costs associated with testing and verification strategies, whilst delivering accurate results.

As the ground segment expands to establish connectivity to both new and existing orbits, testing capabilities must adapt to deliver in-depth and cost-effective results. By improving accessibility to high-quality testing solutions for the ground segment, operators can utilise testing to improve services for their customers. The system ensures repeatability, control over the drone during measurements, ease of operation and data delivery in a uniform format, providing quality assurance and improving reliability throughout the satcom industry. Drone-based testing, calibration, and verification will enable the networks required for the connectivity of the future. 

Get in contact to discuss your requirements and to book a demonstration now.

Quadsat drone base testing antennas