Satellite Vulnerability Test Bed (SVTB)

 Programme:  TRP ITI  Achieved TRL:  3
 Reference:  A00016401  Closure:  2016
 Contractor(s):  Qascom (IT)

 
Today, the performance of Radio Frequency Transponders on spacecraft is tested on ground using dedicated test equipment. Often times it is not re-used for different missions due to differences in requirements, frequencies etc. Also, today’s test equipment often times does not provide systematic capabilities for testing a wide range of interference types.

Objectives
Both drivers listed above call for a test equipment design which is more flexible. Firstly, to include a wide range of interference test vectors  and interference scenarios and secondly re-usability and scalability of such ground test equipment.

Achievements and status
The acitvity has demonstrated the feasibility of building a very flexible transponder test tool for the case of S-Band TC/TM transponders using software defined radio  (SDR) technologies. It allows to generate TC reference signals defined by international standards, combined with a large set of interference types. The combined signal can either be transmitted to a simulated transponder or a real S/C transponder as a device under test. The tool demonstrated a high versatility allowing for example the assessment of the Bit Error Rate under several attack conditions. Preliminary RF hardware tests have also been done at ESA-ESTEC with an EM of the Integrated S-Band Transponder product of Thales Alenia Space España. This has validated the general concept of the tool and its RF generation capabilities.

Benefits
A wide range of interference test vectors for a systematic and realistic assessment of robustness against interference and re-use and scalability of such equipment from one mission to another in order to achieve lower cost.

Next steps
Qascom intends to further develop towards a commercial test equipment product for TTC or SATCOM transponders flying on a wide range of ESA and commercial missions. To support further development they are targeting an ITI phase II and also possibly a GSTP funding, depending on the availablity of commercial and institutional funding opportunities.

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