OneWeb and SatixFy to launch new payload for demand-based targeting

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At the end of last month, OneWeb and SatixFy released details of plans to deploy a digital technology pathway payload into OneWeb’s launch schedule in 2021. The company says that this technology will pave the way for satellites with a greater degree of flexibility and to efficiently support peaks in demand, all without adding a great deal to the constellation.

A OneWeb Low Earth Orbiting Satellite
OneWeb and Satixfy will launch a new, more capable payload in 2021. Photo: OneWeb

Massimiliano Ladovaz, Chief Technical Officer at OneWeb commented on the news, saying,

“This leading-edge satellite will be fully operational and is a great opportunity to showcase what can be delivered with our payload technology. The improved performance, greater efficiency and targeted capacity, together with sophisticated ground infrastructure, puts us at the forefront of LEO communications network services.”

Details of the payload

The payload is described by the companies in a joint press release as a ‘digitally transparent’ payload, capable of demonstrating full Beam Hopping in both forward and return links. The onboard processing subsystem will be able to run independent links on the user and gateway links on the ground with different capabilities.

The companies say that this combination of features, in conjunction with its Electronically Steered Multi-Beam Antenna will enable significantly higher throughout in specific areas. Beam Hopping will allow for seamless handover between beams and satellites, while maximum capacity can be directed to hotspots such as busy airports.

OneWeb launch
The new payload will support OneWeb’s network, which saw 34 LEO satellites launched earlier this month. Photo: OneWeb

Yoel Gat CEO of the SatixFy Group commented on the development, saying,

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“We have designed several chip sets across the full satellite value chain including terminals, payloads and gateways, creating a full eco-system based on our own software. This new OneWeb satellite will demonstrate all of these capabilities.”

While a specific date for launch has yet to be defined, it is being targeted for the second quarter of 2021.

How will it work?

The new payload is intended to support OneWeb’s existing constellation, providing targeted support to areas of peak demand. Gat explained to Runway Girl Network how it will work, saying,

“We can do multiple beams that can point towards multiple locations and switch between them over a very short period of time, so coverage needs to shift extremely quickly. That’s the kind of capability that the new satellite can support, and what we’re demonstrating.”

One web factory
OneWeb has begun mass producing satellites in a huge Florida facility. Photo: OneWeb / Twitter

He explained that the company’s first generation network will cover the entire globe. While this is good, it’s not the most efficient use of resources as there will be coverage in areas where there is very little demand. The new payload will enable OneWeb to direct more resources to specific areas where there is high demand, such as on the North Atlantic Tracks, or even to individual aircraft.

Also contained in the press release was details of a new aero terminal for inflight connectivity. The new terminal will be capable of providing connectivity on both GEO and LEO satellites simultaneously, giving aircraft better coverage throughout the globe.

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