Swedish public innovation agency, Vinnova, has awarded a SEK 4 million (approx. $460,000 USD) development grant to a Swedish project group aimed at boosting the development of a next generation, low-cost LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellite terminal. The award is part of Vinnova’s Electronic components & systems – research and innovation projects 2021.
The project group, led by Satcube includes Chalmers University of Technology, Gapwaves and Forsway Scandinavia. They have all joined forces to develop a benchmark satellite terminal featuring dramatically lower cost, size and weight compared to existing LEO offerings.
As the most important cost driver for a highly cost-efficient terminal is the antenna, the collaborators will focus primarily on developing a benchmark planar Ka-band antenna array, assessing features such as electronic/mechanic beam steering, gap waveguide technology and receive-only architecture.
As a broad playing field of organizations and leading SATCOM providers are currently deploying LEO satellite constellations, many leading industry proponents believe these initiatives can be an important force in reducing the current global digital divide, tapping the ubiquitous provision of satellite broadband coverage based on new cost-effective satellites.
Existing LEO end-user satellite terminals are expensive, hindering mass market adoption – particularly in economically less developed rural areas where incomes and resources are relatively low. Developing a robust, low-cost satellite terminal will be key to driving change.