European Space Agency to Use Software Defined Radios for Satellite Communication

The European Space Agency will use LimeSDR platforms from Lime Microsystems to develop innovative satellite telecommunications solutions based on Software Defined Radios (SDR) for both on ground and in space applications. This is the first we are hearing of a SDR solution for SATCOM applications. So far we have seen SDR's being used in cellular, military and IoT applications.

ESA will actually become an official backer of the LimeSDR Project – which is available through Crowd Supply – and Lime will make 200 LimeSDR Mini units for developers wanting to create applications in the field of satellite communications. Applications will be developed by the LimeSDR community, and shared via Lime-Canonical SDR App Store for Satcom, which is in the works. Applications are anticipated to focus on satellite connectivity and IoT – for example Internet-of-Things services via low-cost satellites, such as Cubesats; and also the use of SDR on-board larger satellites. In addition, new ideas coming from the ongoing 5G efforts in moving toward an SDR based open architecture, enabling fully integrated heterogeneous networks will also be prototyped in a satellite context.

The move forms part of ESA’s ARTES programme, and comes as part of the Space Agency’s drive to speed up satellite communication developments, ensuring that European and Canadian industry remains competitive.

According to ESA, with modern satellite communications, many design challenges are unique, requiring testing and experimentation to reveal what does and does not work. For this reason, fast prototyping of promising technology concepts is absolutely essential. Through the SDR App Store for Satellite initiative, ESA hopes to engage and work with a wide variety of new parties to enable new ideas, boost innovative technologies and prepare for future Satcom products.

LimeSDR Technical specifications:

The LimeSDR and LimeSDR Mini are highly-configurable software defined radio platforms that can work with virtually any standard from IoT (LoRa / SigFox) to mobile comms (2G, 3G, 4G). They use the Lime LS7002 RF chip to operate from 100 kHz to 3.8 GHz (LimeSDR) or 10MHz to 3.5 GHz (Mini) and enable software configuration at the Radio Access Network. This frequency range can be extended to over 10 GHz via a companion board a limited edition of which is also available via Crowd Supply.