Complex small spacecraft missions beyond LEO and the ever-increasing space communication speeds are introducing new challenges for communication systems. NASA’s Distributed Spacecraft Mission (DSM) and their deployments for lunar and Deep Space Networks (DSN) are some examples of such complex missions, where new small spacecraft antenna technologies are needed. To address this technology need, SkyGig is bringing innovative approaches to antenna design through a unique antenna architecture with high-gain electronic beamforming, low SWaP-C, and low-profile modular configuration. With an order of magnitude improvement, the proposed Ka-band technology significantly enhances link capacity, reliability, and latency in the communication system and can a play a pivotal role is a variety of NASA small spacecraft missions and programs:
(1) Inter-Satellite Links (ISL) in DSM configurations, where SkyGig’s technology enables much higher aggregated throughput and reliability with lower latency in the ISL network. This in turn allows supporting higher number of spacecraft collaboration in a constellation and relieves the ground stations by enabling more efficient information exchange in the DSM configuration without input from the ground
(2) Communications architecture in NASA’s lunar and Martian missions, where SkyGig’s technology offers a versatile all-in-one solution with much higher data-rate links for lunar surface to surface, data relay to earth, and access to lunar infrastructure communications
(3) Enabling new mesh network communications in DSN and enabling distribution of communication capabilities across multiple small spacecraft for significant SWaP-C savings, while enhancing coverage and capacity
The Phase I R&D will demonstrate the technology through detailed analysis and comprehensive simulations of the antenna, and will provide us with a complete plan for a successful Phase II effort, where we will perform complete prototype and characterization of the antenna system.
SkyGig’s technology can a play a pivotal role is a variety of NASA small spacecraft missions and programs. This includes Inter-Satellite Links (ISL) in DSM configurations, communications architecture in NASA’s lunar and Martian missions (relay, access, and ISL), as well as mesh network communications in Deep Space and Near Earth Networks (NEN). Other NASA projects that can highly benefit from SkyGig’s technology include NEN communications between small spacecraft and CubeSats in LEO, GEO and Earth; TDRSS communications; and SKOUT project.
Driven by the rapid roll-out of commercial NGSO satellite constellations as well as growth of commercial satcom on-the-move applications (aero, maritime, ground transportation), there is a growing need with significant market opportunity for more advanced electronically beamforming flat-panel antennas (such as the one’s developed by SkyGig), both at the satellite end as well as ground terminals.