The demand for X-band transmitters has been increasing due to a boom in Earth Observation (EO) satellites in the past decade.
One challenge that EO missions face essentially lies in allowing spacecraft to downlink as much data as possible with as little power, mass, and volume taken up by the transmission equipment.
With such drivers in communication needs for satellites leading the industry, suppliers have been working to develop efficient transmitters in the X-band region with data rates in the order of 100-300 Mbps.
Alongside the high data rate requirements, the CubeSat form factor is also driving some of the new designs.
Several suppliers are now focusing on developing X-band transmitter solutions with the CubeSat form factor in mind and are optimising the power, mass and size constraints for their transmitters to align with the structure, volume, and power consumption of CubeSats.
X-band transmitters on the global marketplace
Below you can see an overview of several X-band transmission systems available on the global market that can be used by CubeSat and small satellite developers to fit their downlink requirements.
In addition, if you are interested the emerging alternative technology of optical satellite communication systems we also have a product roundup post on the lasercomms market segment.
Please note that this list will be updated when new products are added to the global marketplace for space – so please check back for more or sign up for our mailing list to get all the updates.
The EWC transmitter portfolio from Syrlinks
Syrlinks manufacturers a range of CCSDS-compliant X-band transmitters suitable for a variety of satellite sizes and mission requirements:
EWC28 – For medium-sized spacecraft with a minimum lifetime of 5 years in LEO, operating in the 8025-8400 MHz and 8400-8500 MHz (optional) frequency ranges. Offering an excellent SWAP (1kg 1 litre) design integrating a DC/DC converter (galvanic isolator), low power consumption and RF output power programmable from 30 to 39 dBm. Developed in collaboration with CNES and ESA, and reached TRL 9 in 2013.
EWC27 – Miniaturized version of the EWC28, delivering up to 140 Mbps (optional), with an estimated lifetime of 2 years in LEO. Highly flexible with multiple options for transmission capacity in the X-band (8GHz – EO & DS) and featuring smart power amplifier control in order to boost efficiency for each RF power level, permitting extremely low power consumption. Developed in collaboration with CNES and ESA, and reached TRL 9 in 2015.
N-XONOS – An enhanced version of the EWC27 with increased performance up to 350 Mbps. A state-of-the-art modular device with optional features in both hardware and software including different functions and waveforms. Suitable for Cube-, nano-, mini- and microsatellites and including extended product assurance.
EWC30 – 8 GHz X-band transmitters developed with CNES. Fully compliant with ECSS-Q-ST-60C standard (CLASS 3 or CLASS 2 according product reference) and operating in the 8025–8400 MHz frequency range while exhibiting a data rate up to 400 Mbps. Operating lifetimes of a minimum of 7 years (CLASS3) and 10 years (CLASS2) in LEO missions.
EWC30-NEXT – Enhanced versions of the EWC30 enabling data transmission up to 600 Mbps with 8PSK 4D TCM. The EWC30-NEXT is also available on CLASS 3 or CLASS 2 quality level (EWC30-NEXT-II).
An X-band transmitter offering a QPSK-modulated downlink signal operating in the EESS band (8025 to 8400 MHz) for LEO satellite applications. The X-band transmitter consists of two fully cross-redundant units each including an X-band oscillator, a QPSK modulator, and a final power amplifier of 4W nominal RF output power.
An efficient data downlink solution in the range 8.0-8.4 GHz for CubeSat and microsatellite platforms. Weighing just 500g and with a low power requirement, the SPACE-SI X-band transmitter enables a broad input voltage range from the bus and provides telemetry data in thermal, current and RF power formats. It also features low RF carrier phase noise, and low harmonic and spurious spectral content.
The XLink by IQ Wireless GmbH
An advanced transceiver system for X-band communication links with small satellites in LEO. The mechanical dimensions can fit a 1U CubeSat as well as larger satellites. The radio interface and protocol are created according to standard CCSDS protocols and the product is developed in cooperation with TU Berlin.
The SWIFT-XTS and SWIFT-XTRX by Tethers Unlimited
The SWIFT family of Software Defined Radios (SDR) are designed to provide high-performance communications for small satellite operations. SWIFT radios are built on a modular platform which provides diverse software control of any RF parameter. The products also feature flight heritage.
The AgilSpace PDT series X-band transmitters offer high-performance payload data transmission with high speeds and bandwidth.
The PDT-300 X-Band Transmitter – is a highly flexible transmitter that can utilise various data rate configurations to suit different mission types and offers a data downlink of up to 300 Mbps. The transmitter consists of Solid-State Power Amplifier (SSPA) modules along with two RF transmission chains offering increased redundancy and communication coverage.
PDT-50 X-Band Transmitter Suite – with a 50 Mbps data speed and featuring a unique 8-patch antenna design that offers high mission flexibility and robustness in data transmission. With complete ground coverage, any of the 8 antennae may be used as a downlink to the ground stations. The PDT-50 Transmitter Suite consists of 8 selectable patch antennae with individual Solid-State Power Amplifier (SSPA) modules, as well as 2 RF transmission chains for increased redundancy and communication coverage.
The HRT-440 by General Dynamics
A space-qualified transmitter designed to maximise X-band data downlink capabilities. The system features a powerful CCSDS Low Density Parity Check (LDPC) code. Standard operation is SQPSK modulation at the traditional 8.2 GHz downlink band, with options available for Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) Ku-Band or Ka-Band operation.
SAIT Ltd produce X-band transmitters for CubeSats and other satellite sizes:
The Cubesat X-band Transmitter is a flight-proven transmission technology for CubeSats and smallsats. Offering high throughput in the CubeSat form factor and featuring flexible, state-of-the-art modulation and error correction coding. The transmitter also features customisable data and control interfaces.
The High-speed X-band Downlink Transmitter (PRD3) provides a reliable high throughput communication channel from spacecraft to ground stations. It is suitable for small satellites, larger spacecraft with steerable antennae and human-rated spacecraft (ISS). It features a carrier frequency of 8225 MHz (factory settable to 8.1-8.5 GHz), output power of 8 W and flexible, state-of-the-art modulation and error correction coding.
Offering 10 Mbit/s data transmission to Earth on X-band frequencies (8175–8215 MHz). The product shown represents an on-board equipment unit, which is to be installed into the structure of a CubeSat-format small satellite and connected to other on-board systems through a PC 104 unified plug. The product can also be connected to CAN2.0B bus.
A space-optimized SDR mission data transmitter based on the powerful Xilinx Zynq® SoC platform (Kintex 7 FPGA + Dual ARM9 Cores). An RF Transmitter supporting X-band (8.025—8.4 GHz) and optional S-band (2.2—2.3 GHz) RF outputs. The S2DR HRTX transmitter provides 28 modulation and coding schemes enabling flexible link design and effective link robustness / link rate tradeoffs.
For X-band phased array radar applications. The module employs MMIC amplifiers and thin film circuits manufactured using chip & wire technology. The receive path provides protection against high power signals and a female type Micro-D connector is used for control/supply voltages.
Compact transmitters designed for advanced missions where a high data rate downlink is required. The transmitters have flight heritage and feature low power consumption and transmission data rates up to 7.5 Mbps with full, ½ and ¼ rate modes. They also offer support for amateur (2.4–2.45 GHz) and commercial (2.2–2.3 GHz) bands.
Part of Innoflight’s Software-defined Compact Radio (SCR) family and designed for performance and reliability in a substantially miniaturized package. It incorporates advanced modulation, encoding and transport methods through modern highly integrated application specific chipsets (RF) with a high density System-on-Chip (SoC) FPGAs. Frequency, power, waveform, modulation and other features are selectable and can be controlled on the fly. An optional enclosure with smallsat mounting tabs is also available.
Honeywell provides a family of flexible, high-efficiency DownLink products to the space market. The HR Variant is an innovative DownLink transmitter with flexible SDR functionality and has been optimized for small- to medium-sized missions that demand high data rates and established PA standards.
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