in Space

Link Microtek develops microwave rotary joint for SSTL APM

Posted 8 February 2019 · Add Comment

Manufacturer of microwave and RF subsystems and components, Link Microtek, has designed and produced a spaceflight-qualified microwave rotary joint and associated waveguide components as part of a Ka-band antenna pointing mechanism (APM) being developed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL).



Above: One of the Link Microtek rotary joints being inserted into SSTL’s Ka-band antenna pointing mechanism.

Destined for use on low-Earth-orbit satellites, the Ka-band APM will enable the maximum amount of high-data-rate information, such as high-resolution images or video, to be transmitted to a ground station as the satellite completes its rapid traverse of the sky. Within the APM, the rotary joint performs the critical function of feeding the RF carrier signal from the static side of the antenna to the rotating side.

Link Microtek’s Managing Director, Steve Cranstone, takes up the story: “As the rotary joint and waveguide components are for use in spaceflight, they had to combine very low loss performance, low weight and long life, while at the same time being able to withstand the extreme physical demands of vacuum, vibration and temperature variation. All of which made the design and manufacture of these parts very challenging.”

SSTL’s APM design includes two Link Microtek rotary joints – one for azimuth and one for elevation – as well as interconnecting waveguides, which are made from aluminium to minimise weight and are crucial to the overall RF performance of the system.

Each rotary joint is of single-channel, non-contacting design covering the frequency band 25.5 to 27.0 GHz. Also made from aluminium, the rotary joints feature a WR34 waveguide interface on both ends and a bespoke flange design. The measured RF performance is impressive, with a very low maximum insertion loss of 0.29dB, a maximum insertion loss WOW of 0.12, maximum VSWR of 1.28:1 and maximum VSWR WOW of 0.13.

Steve Cranstone again: “Although ensuring that these intricate parts could cope with the hostile conditions of spaceflight was an enormous challenge, it was one that our in-house team of engineers rose to successfully, drawing on their decades of experience in this field to produce components of extraordinary robustness and stability. The rotary joint, for example, showed no significant degradation of performance even after an accelerated life test of nearly 700,000 revolutions.”

The development of the new Ka-band APM will significantly enhance SSTL’s data downlink capability, enabling it to support a data throughput of up to 1Gbps for a variety of high-resolution imaging applications.

Simon McLaren, Mechanisms Team Leader at SSTL, said: “We are pleased with the performance of the non-contacting Ka-band rotary joint and waveguide RF feed network developed by Link Microtek for use in Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd’s evolving antenna pointing mechanisms product range, to increase downlink capacity over existing technologies. We look forward to continuing to work with Link Microtek on future missions.”

 

 

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Latest News

BA targets reducing single-use plastic on flights

British Airways today announced a new target to remove more than 700 tonnes of single-use plastic on board its flights in 2020, amounting to more than a quarter of a billion individual items of plastic and equivalent to more than 30,000

Dstl offers veterans second career

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is leading a new venture to offer second careers to military veterans.

UK cyber entrepreneurs meet world's experts in Silicon Valley

An exciting mix of innovative start-ups are flying the flag for the UK at a prestigious conference on cyber security in California’s Silicon Valley.

100th anniversary of first control tower at Croydon marks birth of air traffic control

The world’s first air traffic control tower was commissioned by the UK government 100 years ago today in a move that helped usher in the age of mass air travel, built at what was then London’s main airport in Croydon and kick-started the

ADB Safegate to provide KKIA with BRS

ADB Safegate Airport Systems (AS) has signed a five year implementation and support agreement for a Baggage Reconciliation System (BRS) to boost operational efficiency of baggage handling in King Khalid International Airport

HRH The Prince of Wales hosts SMI aviation round table

Last month the World Economic Forum launched the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI), a collaboration between HRH Prince of Wales and the World Economic Forum, which has been followed by a series of industry and issue-specific round

ODU 0201311219
See us at
VIDSE BT1605060320FIL20BT010819260720AMAS BT0312270220SMI favws BT0602040620DVD 2020S&P BT241019040320