SOFTWARE-DEFINED RADIO PAYLOAD DESIGN FOR CUBESAT AND X-BAND COMMUNICATIONS
Lovdahl, Bianca L.
Newman, James H.
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With traditional radio frequency (RF) bands becoming congested and the Department of Defense (DoD) expanding its efforts in the field of small satellites, the need for an on-orbit software-defined radio (SDR) has emerged. SDRs are a compact, off-the-shelf, low-cost, low-risk options for small satellite communication and can provide the flexibility of on-orbit configurability. This study includes the research toward the development of an on-orbit SDR CubeSat payload that can transmit on X-band spectrum (8–12 GHz). This band of interest can provide higher data rates and more bandwidth. Work in CubeSat transmitters and receivers supports development of national capabilities in space of benefit to warfighters. The payload designed, built, and tested for this research is called Com-Cube. Com-Cube utilizes hardware components and software considered for incorporation into a future CubeSat payload. Com-Cube was tested on a low altitude balloon (LAB) flight and demonstrated the transmission of images taken in-flight to a ground station via an amateur radio C-band frequency (5.75 GHz). This work directly supports a transmitter and receiver needed for future telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C) and payload applications in the field of small satellites. This type of payload provides a test platform for further NPS research in the Mobile CubeSat Command and Control (MC3) ground station network operations and broadcast and receive experiments at frequencies of interest.
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