Thinkom completes first-ever in-flight MEO-GEO satellite roaming tests

ThinKom Solutions has completed a series of in-flight connectivity tests of its Ka-band antenna on SES’ O3b medium-Earth orbit (MEO) and geostationary (GEO) satellites.

The tests provided the first live demonstration of airborne communication with the O3b MEO satellites and included seamless handovers between MEO and GEO satellites during flight.

The in-flight demos used the Thales FlytLIVE connectivity network and incorporated the Hughes JUPITER ModMan integrated to the ThinKom Ka2517 antenna.

The flights took place over South Florida and the Caribbean Sea, using a commercially available ThinKom Ka2517 phased-array airborne antenna mounted on a Gulfstream G-III test aircraft. With the Hughes JUPITER Aeronautical system and ModMan, the antenna demonstrated the ability to achieve high data throughput rates while seamlessly switching among successive O3b MEO satellites, as well as transfers between O3b and SES’ GEO constellations.

The Ka2517 achieved downlink error-free data throughput rates in excess of 265 Mbps, with beam switching speeds of less than one second, while automatically resolving adjacent satellite interference (ASI) issues.

“This is the first in-flight demonstration of an aeronautical antenna communicating across a MEO-GEO hybrid satellite network. The Ka2517 with the JUPITER ModMan met or exceeded all test parameters for spectral efficiency, data throughput, beam agility, switching speeds, ASI mitigation, low-angle performance and inter-constellation roaming,” said ThinKom chief technology officer Bill Milroy.

“The demonstration further establishes that ThinKom has the only proven ‘no compromise‘ antenna solutions that can support seamless global satellite communication in the air with automatic roaming among GEO, LEO and MEO constellations,” Milroy added.

Based on ThinKom’s patented phased-array VICTS technology, the Ka2517 is an airborne antenna designed to communicate through satellites in low, medium and geostationary orbits. The low-profile antenna radome provides near-zero aeronautical drag in flight and supports global coverage including polar and equatorial latitudes.

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