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Communications Payload Design and Satellite System Architecture: Bent Pipe and Digital Processor-based

4-Day Course

$2195 per person


This four-day course provides communications and satellite systems engineers and system architects with a comprehensive and accurate approach for the specification and detailed design of the communications payload and its integration into a satellite system. Both standard bent pipe repeaters and digital processors (on board and ground-based) are studied in depth, and optimized from the standpoint of maximizing throughput and coverage (single footprint and multi-beam). Applications in Fixed Satellite Service (C, X, Ku and Ka bands) and Mobile Satellite Service (L and S bands) are addressed as are the requirements of the associated ground segment for satellite control and the provision of services to end users.

Applications in Fixed Satellite Service (C, X, Ku and Ka bands) and Mobile Satellite Service (L and S bands) are addressed as are the requirements of the associated ground segment for satellite control and the provision of services to end users. Discussion will address inter-satellite links using millimeter wave RF and optical technologies.

Attendees will receive a copy of Mr. Elbert's textbook Introduction to Satellite Communication – 3rd ed. (Artech House, 2008)

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  • How to transform system and service requirements into payload specifications and design elements.
  • What are the specific characteristics of payload components, such as antennas, LNAs, microwave filters, channel and power amplifiers, and power combiners.
  • What space and ground architecture to employ when evaluating on-board processing and multiple beam antennas, and how these may be configured for optimum end-to-end performance.
  • How to understand the overall system architecture and the capabilities of ground segment elements - hubs and remote terminals - to integrate with the payload, constellation and end-to-end system.

From this course you will obtain the knowledge, skill and ability to configure a communications payload based on its service requirements and technical features. You will understand the engineering processes and device characteristics that determine how the payload is put together and operates in a state-of-the-art telecommunications system to meet user needs.

  1. Communications Payloads and Service Requirements. Bandwidth, coverage, services and applications; RF link characteristics and appropriate use of link budgets; bent pipe payloads using passive and active components; specific demands for broadband data, IP over satellite, mobile communications and service availability; principles for using digital processing in system architecture, and on-board processor examples at L band (non-GEO and GEO) and Ka band.

  2. Systems Engineering to Meet Service Requirements. Transmission engineering of the satellite link and payload (modulation and FEC, standards such as DVB-S2 and Adaptive Coding and Modulation, ATM and IP routing in space); optimizing link and payload design through consideration of traffic distribution and dynamics, link margin, RF interference and frequency coordination requirements.

  3. Bent-pipe Repeater Design. Example of a detailed block and level diagram, design for low noise amplification, down-conversion design, IMUX and band-pass filtering, group delay and gain slope, AGC and linearizaton, power amplification (SSPA and TWTA, linearization and parallel combining), OMUX and design for high power/multipactor, redundancy switching and reliability assessment.

  4. Spacecraft Antenna Design and Performance. Fixed reflector systems (offset parabola, Gregorian, Cassegrain) feeds and feed systems, movable and reconfigurable antennas; shaped reflectors; linear and circular polarization; detailed antenna design process (directivity, gain, polarization purity, surface tolerance, beam isolation, thermal distortion, PIM).

  5. Communications Payload Performance Budgeting. Gain to Noise Temperature Ratio (G/T), Saturation Flux Density (SFD), and Effective Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP); repeater gain/loss budgeting; frequency stability and phase noise; third-order intercept (3ICP), gain flatness, group delay; non-linear phase shift (AM/PM); out of band rejection and amplitude non-linearity (C3IM and NPR).

  6. On-board Digital Processor Technology. A/D and D/A conversion, digital signal processing for typical channels and formats (FDMA, TDMA, CDMA); demodulation and remodulation, multiplexing and packet switching; static and dynamic beam forming; design requirements and service impacts.

  7. Multi-beam Antennas. Fixed multi-beam antennas using multiple feeds, feed layout and isloation; phased array approaches using reflectors and direct radiating arrays; on-board versus ground-based beamforming.

  8. RF Interference and Spectrum Management Considerations. Unraveling the FCC and ITU international regulatory and coordination process; choosing frequency bands that address service needs; development of regulatory and frequency coordination strategy based on successful case studies.

  9. Ground Segment Selection and Optimization. Overall architecture of the ground segment: satellite TT&C and communications services; earth station and user terminal capabilities and specifications (fixed and mobile); modems and baseband systems; selection of appropriate antenna based on link requirements and end-user/platform considerations.

  10. Earth station and User Terminal Tradeoffs: RF tradeoffs (RF power, EIRP, G/T); network design for provision of service (star, mesh and hybrid networks); portability and mobility.

  11. Performance and Capacity Assessment. Determining capacity requirements in terms of bandwidth, power and network operation; selection of the air interface (multiple access, modulation and coding); interfaces with satellite and ground segment; relationship to available standards in current use and under development (GMR-1 and GMR-2, CDMA, WiMAX).

  12. Advanced Concepts for Inter-satellite Links and System Verification. Requirements for inter-satellite links in communications and tracking applications. RF technology at Ka and Q bands; optical laser innovations that are applied to satellite-to-satellite and satellite-to-ground links. Innovations in verification of payload and ground segment performance and operation; where and how to review sources of available technology and software to evaluate subsystem and system performance; guidelines for overseeing development and evaluating alternate technologies and their sources.

Tuition for this four-day course is $2195 per person at one of our scheduled public courses. Onsite pricing is available. Please call us at 410-956-8805 or send an email to

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Bruce ElbertBruce R. Elbert, MS (EE), MBA, Adjunct Professor (ret), College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Mr. Elbert is a recognized satellite communications expert and has been involved in the satellite and telecommunications industries for over 40 years. He founded Application Technology Strategy, LLC, to assist major private and public sector organizations that develop and operate cutting-edge networks using satellite and other wireless technologies During 25 years with Hughes Electronics, he directed the design of several major satellite projects, including Palapa A, Indonesia’s original satellite system; the Galaxy follow-on; and the development of the first GEO mobile satellite system capable of serving handheld user terminals. Mr. Elbert was also ground segment manager for the Hughes system, which included eight teleports and 3 VSAT hubs. He served in the US Army Signal Corps as a radio communications officer and instructor. By considering the technical, business, and operational aspects of satellite systems, Mr. Elbert has contributed to the operational and economic success of leading organizations in the field. He has written nine books on telecommunications and IT.

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