Kepler Communications was awarded two contributions by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to help accelerate developments on electrically steerable antenna technologies for small satellites. This technology will help to improve the data transfer capabilities and economics on Kepler’s growing low-Earth orbit constellation.
The first contribution awarded is focused on developing an electrically steerable antenna using low-cost off-the-shelf components that can adhere to the strict size, weight, and power constraints of a small satellite platform. The funding from the CSA will help to elevate the antenna technology to the point where it could be flown on a technology demonstration mission in late 2021.
The second contribution awarded will support a collaboration between Kepler and the Centre for Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems (CIARS) of the University of Waterloo in performing a feasibility study of developing beamforming integrated circuits for electrically steerable antennas. Beamforming integrated circuits have the potential to significant decrease the cost and increase the performance of the electrically steerable antenna circuitry, though they are difficult to implement without substantial economies of scale.
Both technologies will be utilized to improve the performance and reduce the cost of Kepler’s Global Data Service, a high-throughput and pole-to-pole satellite communications service.
“Electrically steerable antennas hold significant potential to increase throughput of our wideband connectivity service,” explains Kepler’s CEO and co-founder Mina Mitry. “A key challenge however is building these systems to fit within the stringent constraints of a small satellite platform. These contribution awards from the CSA are instrumental in helping us to bring these important technologies to market.”
The contributions were awarded through the CSA’s Space Technology Development Program (STDP). Kepler is a previous recipient of STDP contributions, including one to develop a satellite manufacturing capability in downtown Toronto (Linked). These new contributions from the CSA will also allow Kepler to continue to support and create new high-tech jobs, with 15 highly qualified people being supported through these projects.