(Originally published in SatMagazine February 2024)

Satisfying Customer Requirements with Innovative Ground Segment Products and Solutions

The pace of change within the satellite industry continues to accelerate into 2024. Software- defined satellites, digitized ground segment, the commercial use of Q/V bands and the continued rollout of large LEO constellations are driving innovation. Calian is rising to this challenge with new product offerings and solutions for even the most demanding customer requirements.

Transition to Q/V Bands

Next-generation satellite networks continue to migrate to higher frequency ranges such as Q/V-band to allow their new gateway ground systems to access greater capacity to meet growing customer bandwidth demands. Calian continues to lead the way with the development and live-satellite testing of a four-metre Q/V full motion LEO antenna. Its proven track record of performance with 4m and 10m antenna solutions makes Calian’s ground gateway solutions one of the lowest risk platforms in the industry. These innovative ground gateway solutions are making Q/V band feeder links a reality for LEO, MEO or GEO applications.

Calian has integrated its subsidiary InterTronic Solutions Inc into the Advanced Technologies family. Besides the name change to Calian Antenna Solutions (formerly InterTronic Solutions), it has articulated a combined antenna technology line which includes small to large aperture antennas across multiple frequency ranges. Using state-of-the-art digital tracking solutions, its antenna control systems can meet the most demanding tracking performance, including features such as Ka and Q band monopulse tracking. Calian Antenna Solutions has combined industry knowledge with tried and tested antenna designs to provide customers with solutions to meet the most demanding performance at competitive prices.

In the coming year, Calian will be delivering its most advanced and highest-speed pedestal solution suitable for electronic warfare applications. It will also introduce a new, full-motion 3-axis 4m Ka-Band antenna system. Plus, Calian Antenna Solutions continues its valued long-standing relationship with NASA and will be fielding its third VLBI antenna at the Fortaleza Geodetic Observatory in Brazil in 2024 for NASA’s VGOS program.

Ground Station Digitization

Satellite ground system digitization was a hot topic in 2023 and the driver towards more virtualization and network-based processing within satcom networks. In 2024, Calian will introduce new DIFI-compliant RF over IP products such as the soon to be released Calian Transporter that serves as the fundamental building blocks to enable this new digital-first architecture. It will help customers unlock the benefits of digitization, such as lower capex, improved interoperability, scalability and adaptability.

The virtualized ground segment is also supported by Calian’s cloud-deployable line of network management products. The Calian Mon-A-Co Edge monitor and control system, used to monitor the critical ground system components, is undergoing a major version upgrade this year. The popular SatService, a Calian company MNC monitor and control software, is a lighter-weight, lower-cost version. Each of these systems integrate with the Calian Mon-A-Co Centro product that pulls together information from many data sources to provide enhanced situational awareness for any satellite network operations centre. Whatever the requirement, Calian has the network management software to meet customers’ needs.

Situational awareness has become a necessity for satellite operators to react quickly to service disruptions. For many years, Calian has provided network and carrier monitoring systems that notify service providers immediately if any of its carriers or services require attention. In 2023, Calian added the Illuminator software add-on carrier monitoring product to its Decimator D4 RF Spectrum and Signal Analyzer product line and in 2024, a new carrier under carrier feature will enhance interference investigation.

Software-defined Satellites

Calian specializes in developing innovative, software-based gateways and resource management solutions tailored for the satellite communications industry. As the industry steadily transitions towards software-defined satellites and virtualized ground segments, Calian’s solutions empower satellite operators and service providers to leverage these next-generation technologies.

As software-defined satellites offer the industry unprecedented increases in bandwidth and flexibility, they also introduce more complexity in coordinating changes between the satellites and the ground segment. In 2024, Calian will announce its Resource Orchestration product as an addition to its suite of resource management solutions. Calian’s Resource Orchestrator will autonomously coordinate changes across satellites and gateways, ensuring network availability and performance. With a vendor-agnostic design, it will support both GEO and LEO satellites, enabling satellite operators to obtain the most value from their communication networks.

Calian also anticipates the increased adoption of ground segment virtualization, which promises to leverage software-defined principles to optimize operations, improve flexibility, and enhance overall efficiency. The teams’ experience engineering custom software-based gateways and software-defined radios will help operators and service providers navigate this transition.

Large Scale LEO Constellations

Large scale LEO constellations continue to gain momentum. 2024 will see the largest number of gateways coming online to date. As an alternative to traditional fibre connection, the greater accessibility of satellite networks in the coming year will be a wonderful opportunity to bring communication to areas otherwise underserved globally. It will also give users a taste of the true impact of these networks in terms of their significantly improved speeds and reliability. Calian’s Teleport division, augmented by its acquisition of Hawaii Pacific Teleport (HPT) in 2023, will play a part in this expansion through its sites in Hawaii, Guam and central Canada. Providing valuable satellite operations support, HPT alone will deploy 32 LEO antennas next year, the largest deployment in a single year in the company’s history. The addition of HPT to the Calian team further expands Calian’s portfolio and allows greater integration of Calian products into new customer relationships and markets around the world.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have provided all industries with an unprecedented set of tools and capabilities to solved tough computational challenges. With the support of the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) funding, Calian’s Satellite Operations team is researching the use of AI and ML to automate the evaluation of spacecraft health to detect anomalies and predict faults, potentially extending spacecraft life. Calian expects to leverage this capability into a suite of satellite control products. These products are a natural extension of well-established satellite operations services. With more than 25 years of experience in operating LEO satellites for earth observation, Calian is uniquely positioned to leverage its skills in spacecraft engineering and flight dynamics to bring operational considerations to new space mission design in the coming year.

Calian will continue to explore emerging trends in 2024, while looking forward to continued growth, along with new challenges and opportunities in the year ahead.

Various authors at Calian, Advanced Technologies contributed to this article including Dan Baril, Senior Vice President, Space, Darren Schlageter, Vice President, Communication Ground Systems, Russ Palmer, Vice President Software Defined Solutions, Peter Waskowic, Vice President, Satcom Products, Denis Sirois, Director Satellite Operations and Services, Mohamed Saad, President, Calian Antenna Solutions (formerly InterTronic), Wilfried Megger, Managing Director, SatService, a Calian company, and Leeana Smith-Ryland, Chief Executive Officer, Hawaii Pacific Teleport. To contact our Calian experts, email [email protected].

Calian Advanced Technologies is a global supplier of highly technical solutions, services and products to the aerospace and defence, satellite, wired and terrestrial wireless, test and measurement, agricultural technology, GNSS technology and nuclear industries. It provides infrastructure for satellite ground systems including antennas, antenna/RF systems, and software defined solutions for controlling and monitoring satellite network resources, equipment and services. Its engineering, nuclear and technical solutions teams are some of the most highly sought experts in their fields.

Advanced Technologies also designs and manufactures Calian and OEM-branded communication products for wired and wireless applications and power management and control products for military vehicle applications. Additionally, it provides third-party, build-to-print electronics/electromechanical engineering, manufacturing/test and product lifecycle management services for customers in commercial and defence/security markets. www.calian.com/solutions/satcom/

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