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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

X-band Cube Satellite Communication System Demonstration

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

This work will develop, test and demonstrate an end-to-end innovative, compact, efficient and low cost S-band uplink and X-band downlink CubeSat Communication System between a balloon and/or sounding rocket and a NEN ground system (Wallops Ground System (WGS) 11.28 meter system) to support current and future CubeSat communication needs. 3D EM simulations and STK with real and simulated gain patterns will be used to design this communication system. The outcome of this study will be used to pave the way of next generation NEN compatible X-band CubeSat communication system to support higher data rates with more advanced modulation and forward error correction (FEC) coding schemes and to support and attract new science missions at lower cost.

This research has three main objectives.

  • Design, simulate and test a CubeSat S- and X-band communication system. STK and HFSS Simulations and modeling results will be used to trade the merit of various designs for small satellite applications. S- and X-band antennas will be tested in the compact antenna test range to gather radiation pattern data.
  • Simulate and Test a CubeSat compatible X-band communication system including S-band antennas, X-band antennas and LASP/GSFC transmitter S-band receiver from TRL-5 to TRL-8 by the end of this effort.
    • Different X-band communication systems with components, at GSFC, other NASA centers, universities, private companies, such as antennas and diplexers etc. will be investigated and traded.
    • We will identify a complete component list for the communication system baseline by performing some analytical and numerical analysis work.   This objective includes running simulations and doing trades between different X-band antenna systems and optimizing communication system performance.
  • Final objective is to test an end-to-end X-band CubeSat communication system demo between a balloon and/or sounding rocket and a NEN system, WGS 11.28 meter system or equivalent, and look for a possible CubeSat mission. The proposed work will be completed in one year and then possible future “NASA's Science Mission Directorate CubeSat Initiative" demonstration candidates will be explored.
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