Better satellite communication is on its way

2nd August 2017
Anna Flockett

First Sensor Lewicki, part of the sensor specialist First Sensor, will be involved in the construction of one of the antennas for the German communication satellite Heinrich Hertz. A contract was signed on June 28th, 2017 by the DLR (German Aerospace Center), the contracting authority, and OHB System AG, thegeneral contractor, for the construction, testing and launch of the satellite. The multi-feed array antenna is related to the mission objective of a geostationary relay for low Earth orbit satellites (GeReLEO).

For the 90x90mm antenna an innovative printed circuit board technology will be used for the realisation of a planar multi-feed array, in which active components are embedded. First Sensor Lewicki is working on the project together with the Institute of High Frequency Technology at RWTH Aachen University and the IMST GmbH in Kamp-Lintfort.

The launch of the satellite is planned for the year 2021. In addition to a number of other tasks, the Heinrich Hertz satellite will serve as a relay station for smaller earth-orbiting satellites. The background: satellites orbiting the Earth can only send their data to the ground station in a time window of about 10 to 15 minutes.

The next radio contact is only possible after a further Earth roundabout. Here, the Heinrich Hertz satellite will function as a relay: in its geostationary orbit, far above the low-orbit satellites, it will be able to receive the data over clearly enlarged windows of over 40 minutes and then forward these to the ground station. The amount of data which can be received per revolution by the satellites is also considerably increased via the extended reception windows.

"The DLR-funded project to build the multi-feed array antenna for the GeReLEO-MFA project on the Heinrich Hertz satellite opens us the door to a new application field in the area of spaceflight qualified high-frequency technology, in addition to the existing qualification as an assembly and test house", commented Maximilian Sailer, Managing Director of First Sensor Lewicki, on the participation in the DLR project.

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