ThinKom unveils new solution for satellites

06 November 2019

ThinKom Solutions has brought to market what it opines to be a new offering “for efficient and effective land-based gateways” – designed to accommodate both current and next generation low-Earth-orbit (LEO) and medium-Earth-orbit (MEO) satellite constellations.

The new gateway concept, which the vendor describes as an “array of arrays”, is meant to provide an alternative to the large “antenna farms” of parabolic dishes currently used for support of geostationary (GEO) satellites.

It is based on ThinKom’s phased-array antenna technology, which the firm claims is currently in use on over 1,300 commercial aircraft installations around the world.

“The proliferation of cubesats, nanosats, microsats and other miniaturized satellites will require a new way of thinking when it comes to gateway antenna technology,” says Bill Milroy, chairman and chief technology officer of ThinKom Solutions.

“The answer is not to deploy more and larger dish farms. Instead, we’re proposing an entirely new paradigm that’s designed for the future yet employs currently available proven phased array technology.” 

Current-generation gateways employ large parabolic dishes which are necessarily limited to one link per dish. 

ThinKom says its approach uses multiple, tightly arranged, phased-array antennas, “which are coherently combined”.

The antenna units “work together” to track multiple LEO, MEO and GEO satellites simultaneously with look angles between five and 90 degrees in elevation and full 360-degree coverage in azimuth (an angular measurement in a spherical coordinate system, in case you didn’t know).