Space-qualified data relay payload enables on-demand near real-time data communications for LEO SmallSats.

Cambridge, UK – 26 June 2024 – TTP, an independent technology and product development company based in the UK, has today announced the intended launch of a new data relay terminal into space with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). The terminal, the first of its kind manufactured in Europe, can provide a constant link between Low Earth Orbit (LEO) small satellites (SmallSats) and Earth through a geosynchronous satellite relay.

The low SWaP-C space-qualified terminal will be launched shortly in the US on Tyche, an Earth observation satellite for UK Space Command built by SSTL, and will be used for defence applications.

The terminal provides a data link between a LEO SmallSat and GEO satellites using Viasat’s global L-band network. This enables constant on-demand ground contact for LEO satellites, rather than being restricted to the short windows that open when LEO satellites travel over ground stations. The terminal unlocks true intersatellite links and provides rapid response, near real-time Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TT&C) communications, and data transfer.

The terminal’s antenna is omnidirectional, meaning it doesn’t need to be steered to track GEO satellites to communicate with them. The satellite’s power can be purely focused on its primary operation and the link will be maintained automatically.

Lewis Davies, Satellite and Space System Architect at TTP, said, “In this ‘New Space’ age, we’re proud that our terminal, which uses commercial-off-the-shelf hardware, is soon to be space-borne. It builds on TTP’s heritage in the development of satcom terminals for a wide range of applications and is manufactured in the UK, a member of the Five Eyes alliance. The terminal’s compact size makes it suitable for small satellites, so it can quickly be applied to a range of use cases such as earth observation, active debris removal and IoT connectivity. Ultimately, we’re giving LEO operators greater telemetry capabilities and control over their satellites by enabling commands to be sent and received at any time.”

Rob Goddard, Director of Engineering at SSTL, said: “LEO satellites have typically been limited in their ability to send data to Earth, only able to connect when orbiting past a ground terminal. SSTL are excited to be part of this innovation in space technology with TTP, jointly developing the data relay Inter Satellite Link (ISL) in the UK that can constantly and reliably provide a connection with Earth, via GEO satellites to enable on demand tasking and quick access to data in an accelerating world.”

Todd McDonell, Head of International Government at Viasat: “Persistent satellite connectivity is critical for defence and military operations. Using the strength of Viasat’s global L-band network, this new terminal from TTP will help unlock greater data relay capabilities for LEO operators than previously available. Whether it’s for disaster recovery, rapid tasking or monitoring remote mission environments, defence organisations need access to real-time data as military operators on the ground can’t afford to wait an hour for LEO satellites to pass over a ground terminal to receive data.”

The terminal has a data rate of up to 200kbps, is 300x160x30mm and weighs 1.35kg. In receive mode (Rx) it has a power consumption of 8W, with a peak consumption of 38W.

About TTP

TTP is a technology and product development services company based in the Cambridge (UK) technology cluster. For over 35 years, the company has been delivering science and technology-driven innovation to clients in a wide range of sectors, including aerospace, where we are working with global leaders who benefit from TTP’s exposure to other industry sectors and technologies. TTP’s focus areas in the space sector include:

  • User terminals and antennas for satellite connectivity, including for UAVs
  • 5G Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTNs)
  • Intersatellite links
  • Space sustainability solutions

TTP has extensive experience in the development of terrestrial and satellite communication solutions – from system level down to devices, from VHF to V-band, from land-based equipment to aeronautical and space-based platforms.

About Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) is at the forefront of space innovation delivering customisable complete mission solutions for Earth observation, science, communications, navigation, in-orbit debris removal and servicing and exploration beyond Earth infrastructure. Since 1981, SSTL has built and launched 73 satellites for 20 international customers, as well as providing training and development programmes, consultancy services, and mission studies for ESA, NASA, international governments and commercial customers. SSTL is well known for innovative missions such as the CARBONITE satellites, the NovaSAR S-band radar imaging satellite and the RemoveDEBRIS space debris removal technology demonstrator. Headquartered in Guildford, UK.

About Viasat

Viasat is a global communications company that believes everyone and everything in the world can be connected. With offices in 24 countries around the world, our mission shapes how consumers, businesses, governments and militaries around the world communicate and connect. Viasat is developing the ultimate global communications network to power high-quality, reliable, secure, affordable, fast connections to positively impact people’s lives anywhere they are—on the ground, in the air or at sea, while building a sustainable future in space. In May 2023, Viasat completed its acquisition of Inmarsat, combining the teams, technologies and resources of the two companies to create a new global communications partner. Learn more at www.viasat.com, the Viasat News Room or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, X or YouTube. 

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