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SES, Hughes Achieve Multi-Orbit Satellite UAV Connection During Collaborative Demo

By Jeffrey Hill | September 22, 2021

SES’s GEO and MEO fleet. Render by SES / BusinessWire

Hughes Network Systems and SES have demonstrated the ability to connect remotely piloted aircraft with satellites in Geosynchronous (GEO) and Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO), the satellite operators announced early Wednesday.

Hughes and SES collaborated on showcasing the capability for General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), which was interested in seeing if unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as the GA-ASI MQ-9 series could maintain connectivity and resiliency in contested environments.

During the demonstration, the two operators paired’ Hughes HM series software-defined modems and Resource Management System (RMS) with SES’s GEO satellites and its first-generation MEO system O3b. Hughes HM System is designed as a frequency-agnostic, open architecture platform for fixed, mobile and portable government applications.

“The demonstration replicated a typical unmanned Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission, transmitting high-definition video and sensor data to and from the unmanned vehicle to the command center. Based on the mission’s pre-set policies, the RMS automatically switched the satellite signals to stay connected – even when a signal experienced interference and jamming scenarios. A quasi-instant and smooth beam switch took just seconds to complete, allowing a near real-time capability that enhances the military’s Primary Alternative Contingency Emergency (PACE) planning,” the operators reported in the demonstration announcement.

SES’ Vice President of Strategic Government Initiatives and Head of the Aero ISR market Will Tong said that the demonstration was timely considering the operator is preparing to launch O3b mPOWER as a showcased, secure solution for operations that take place in remote regions.

“The demonstration we did with Hughes showcases the power of the industry’s first multi-orbit networked capability to exponentially increase performance utilizing small terminals, while giving end-users the autonomy to provision networks to meet their operational ISR needs,” said Tong.