Research Summaries

Back X-Band Software-Defined Radio as a 1U CubeSat Payload

Fiscal Year 2019
Division Graduate School of Engineering & Applied Science
Department Space Systems Academic Group
Investigator(s) Minelli, Giovanni
Newman, James H.
Sponsor Department of Defense Space (DoD)
Summary This proposal describes the effort associated with space-qualifying an X-band software-defined radio (SDR) transmitter as a 1U CubeSat payload and integrating it with a CubeSat bus to perform broadcast experiments at frequencies and modulations of current and future interest. An SDR payload is currently being developed using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and open-source GNU-radio software to be compatible with a CubeSat bus. AFIT’s 6U bus, Grissom, will be used as a baseline bus for flight unit development and testing. This research effort addresses the strategic objective of exploiting “New Space” (3.3), specifically, to rapidly space-qualify new technology and demonstrate new phenomenonologies and CONOPS on-orbit. This proposal falls under the Fundamental Limits Technical Domain Area (4.2), as an on-orbit SDR payload would permit extension of the experimental and technological boundaries of existing ground architectures and enable the United States to better anticipate technological surprise in the near future. This is proposed for spaceflight as applied research efforts require actual hardware and software on the ground and in space for testing and performing experiments. Having a reconfigurable, X-band SDR on orbit would also be of use to DoD ground stations needing a known and commandable X-band source in orbit. The growing acceptance of the CubeSat form factor as a means of accomplishing focused research objectives of national interest makes this project of great value to the educational curricula at NPS. Although it is too early to identify which students will participate, it is anticipated that Naval Officers and other students in the NPS Space Systems Engineering and Operations curricula will work on this project through Directed Studies and Thesis research, some of whom will have follow-on tours with the sponsor. The Space Systems curricula benefit from the opportunity to develop and use active satellites in orbit into the education and research of our students. In addition, this work supports the development of national capabilities in space to ultimately benefit the Naval Service and the warfighter.
Keywords
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