Astronics brings next-gen connectivity with ESA technology

Astronics’ next-generation satcom antenna series uses electronically steered array (ESA) technology to bring new benefits.

“The E-Series is our latest generation of fuselage mount antenna. It stands for electronically steered array,” Matthew Harrah, President, Astronics AeroSat Corporation, told FINN.

Astronics’ E-Series antennas will feature Phasor Solutions’ active electronically steered array to provide maximum antenna performance. Unlike competing systems, the E-Series will feature technology that enables a simultaneous transmit and receive from a single antenna array, with no need for bulky extra panels that drive up costly size and weight.

Harrah explained: “The biggest difference with electronically steered array is the fact that that solid state – no moving parts.

"You have a very software-driven aperture. This means that we can do more in terms of beamforming compatibility between not just the traditional geostationary satellites, but also into the MEO (middle Earth orbit) - and the LEO (low Earth orbit) world.”

Available in three configurations and with an ultra-low profile, the E-Series will provide Ku- and Ku-HTS connectivity for today’s geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) networks, as well as tomorrow’s medium Earth orbit (MEO) and low Earth orbit (LEO) networks.

The system will offer dual-beam capability, enabling it to communicate with two independent GEOs or a LEO and GEO network simultaneously.

Overcoming challenges

Several Astronics’ customers are in the Middle East. The E-Series antennas use nifty technology to deal with the heat.

Harrah explained: “We have the ability to selectively shut down bits of the array in order to try to control heat if it's getting too hot. There is also a complex internal heatsink system.

“We're able to manage the heat flow so that we can maintain operations,” Harrah said.

He added that another benefit of electronically steered array is that: "It's very quick to respond in terms of making the beam switch from satellite a satellite.”

“With LEOs, you have a 2.5-minute window to look at the satellite, and you may have up to 16 beams. So you may only have 16 seconds each time – with electronically steered array, we [can] make a switch that fast to be able to keep the antenna tracking.”

Harrah said a key focus now is building maximum flexibility into modems to enable more options for airlines and network operators.

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