Above: Artist’s representation of OneWeb future telecommuniction satellite
A group of UK space tech companies, sponsored by Government funding, are developing a new beam-hopping satellite that will allow satellites to allocate capacity momentarily according to demand. By changing the traditional forward link transmission from continuous to time-based burst. The beam-hopping satellite, nicknamed ‘Joey-Sat’, will be able to remotely direct beams to boost coverage in certain locations, such as areas of high usage where the network is struggling to cope with demand. In this revolutionary technology, the traditional color separation (frequency/polarization) is replaced by time division multiplexing over a single frequency carrier.
Led by global satellite communications network OneWeb, the industrial partners have received over £32 million from the UK Space Agency, via the European Space Agency’s Sunrise Programme, for a demonstration satellite due for launch in 2022. OneWeb team up with SatixFy, Celestia UK and Astroscale UK, to demonstrate the technology for its second-generation constellation of satellites planned to be launch-ready in 2025.
The satellite’s pilot beam-hopping payload will be developed by SatixFy, based in Farnborough, UK, and Rehovot, Israel. The user terminal to support this satellite is also being developed by SatixFy, who have been awarded Government funding of approximately £25 million. “We are really excited to be demonstrating new game-changing satellite payload capabilities in space next year,” said Charlie Bloomfield, CEO of SatixFy. “UKSA and ESA support has been fundamental in unlocking these new technologies.”
OneWeb currently has 182 satellites with another launch of 36 satellites scheduled for 27th May. Designed to provide organisations and governments with global and resilient connectivity services, OneWeb’s network will feature 648 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, global gateways and air, maritime and land user terminals. In late 2021, OneWeb will begin providing commercial services across the Arctic regions and expanding to global coverage in 2022.