Northrop Grumman Integrates Satellite Gear
Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] reported progress in the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) military satellite communications program.
The hardware eventually will be directly applicable to the next-generation Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT).
In the latest advance, uplink and downlink phased array antennas developed by Northrop for the first EHF military satellite communications payload were successfully integrated onto the first flight structure.
Further, their performance has been verified alongside other essential payload components.
Delivery of the payload to Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT], the prime contractor for the Advanced EHF program, remains on track for late this month.
Using phased array antennas, advanced microelectronics, extremely high data rate (XDR) waveforms and efficient protocols, Advanced EHF will deliver a significant increase in capacity and connectivity over the legacy Milstar system.
Advanced EHF will deliver 10 times greater total capacity and six times higher channel data rates than Milstar communications satellites.
The phased array antennas Northrop developed for Advanced EHF are directly applicable to TSAT, which ultimately will replace the Milstar and Advanced EHF programs.
Northrop is teamed with Lockheed in the competition to build TSAT, and this accomplishment also represents a reduction in risk and cost to the TSAT program, according to Gabe Watson, vice president of the Advanced EHF payload program for the Northrop Space Technology unit.
More than 40 separate tests were run on the Advanced EHF payload’s three phased array antennas, consisting of one uplink antenna and two downlink antennas, as they were integrated successfully into the payload. These were part of the 231 tests of the Advanced EHF Flight 1 payload test suite.
The antennas also successfully completed an additional series of unique tests which verify the operation of each individual antenna element. The phased array antennas will be the first of their kind to operate at 20 GHz and 40 GHz in space.
Test results verified that the performance of all three antennas exceed gain and coverage requirements and that they successfully interfaced with all applicable components in the payload, including critical digital processing and the RF subsystems.
The Advanced EHF communications system will provide global, highly secure, protected, survivable communications for warfighters in the Department of Defense.
Lockheed is currently under contract to provide three Advanced EHF satellites and the mission control system to its customer, the Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing, located at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at the Los Angeles Air Force Base.