Keysight Technologies
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Bringing Confidence to Satellite Measurements

Aug. 28, 2020
Proper planning helps avoid surprises when assembling test systems for NewSpace satellite equipment.

Space and satellite communication (satcom) technologies are increasingly part of modern communications, whether for commercial, industrial, or military applications. Whether in traditional space operating environments or within the latest NewSpace constellations, testing satcom equipment depends on the appropriate measurements and test instruments. Fortunately, to provide guidance on measurement equipment options for space-bound communications systems, whether at RF, microwave, or millimeter-wave frequencies, Keysight Technologies offers a six-page application note, “Reducing the ‘Cost of Confidence’ in Testing for NewSpace.” The literature is particularly useful for those grappling with the requirements of testing satellite equipment for NewSpace requirements, such as limited budgets, compared to traditional satcom test needs. 

The application note provides a concise analysis of satellite testing, breaking it into four categories: diagnostics, repair and redesign, product waiting, and overhead. For the test step costs, for example, it examines the different types of test instruments needed for each measurement and cost considerations such as the number of devices that must be tested, the test time required for each device, and the time available. These calculations provide a good idea of the number of test stations required. Costs for the test stations also include accessories such as test fixtures, calibration costs, and any expected repair expenses.

Measurement costs for NewSpace satellite constellations can easily be overlooked, but this application note provides an extensive analysis of recurring and nonrecurring expenses, including the cost of capital to procure the test equipment. It is a useful resource for NewSpace network developers and system designers developing budgets and trying to account for all near- and far-term expenses. 

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