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Advanced EHF
Milspace Satellite Program
Passes Tests

Redondo Beach - Oct. 19, 2000

Engineer prepares to insert a controller board into an engineering model, or prototype, of the onboard digital processor developed by TRW for the planned Advanced EHF military satellite communications system. The unit's high-speed digital processing will increase communications throughput tenfold, while dramatically reducing size, weight, and power consumption as compared with conventional processors.
 
 

Advanced EHF satellites will bring broadband data, such as maps and video, to U.S. forces worldwide. The prototype, which replicates the size, shape, and function of the unit that will fly aboard Advanced EHF satellites, successfully underwent several weeks of testing by the U.S. Air Force during September. The tests verified the compatibility of the spaceborne processor with ground terminals.

 TRW is a member of the Lockheed Martin-TRW-Hughes national team named in May to develop the Advanced EHF system for the Air Force. TRW built the engineering model under a separate Air Force contract to lower the technical risk of developing the processor.

The prototype of a powerful spaceborne digital processor, developed by TRW for the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced EHF satellite program, has successfully passed functional tests verifying that the processor meets government requirements for the next-generation system.

The month-long series of tests culminates a three-year effort to lower the technical risk for the processor - the heart of the Advanced EHF satellites which will function as high-speed switchboards in space bringing broadband data, such as maps and video, to U.S. forces worldwide. The processor consists of digital hardware and software to process and route the military communications. The tests demonstrated the spaceborne processor's compatibility with the ground terminals that Advanced EHF system users will employ.

"The successful processor tests add momentum to the Advanced EHF program. We've proved that advanced technology can meet the goal of increasing communications throughput tenfold, while dramatically reducing the size, weight, and power consumption of the unit," said Martin Melnick, vice president and general manager of TRW's Telecommunication Programs Division. He added that TRW's commercial manufacturing practices and its experience in building four generations of spaceborne processors enabled TRW to complete the project on schedule and on budget.

A team consisting of TRW, Lockheed Martin and Boeing Satellite Systems is developing the Advanced EHF system under contract to the U.S. Air Force. The production phase of the program is scheduled to begin in April 2001, with the first of five satellites to be launched late in 2004.

The TRW-developed processor prototype is an engineering model matching the form, fit and function of the actual flight hardware. Testing for the Air Force took place during September at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Mass., using terminal emulators.

The tests verified that the processor is capable of processing new uplink and downlink protocols being developed for Advanced EHF ground terminals and that it is also "backward-compatible" with terminals of today's Milstar satellite system. During the month of testing at Lincoln Lab and three months of prior testing at TRW, the engineering model underwent hundreds of separate tests and, according to Melnick, the results showed that TRW is ready to build the flight processor for the AEHF system.

Compatibility testing centered on verifying the processor's ability to process various waveforms that the Advanced EHF systems will use and verifying that the processor's software protocols are compatible with those of the terminals. Tests also measured the processor's ability to meet functional requirements and specified data rates. TRW developed the processor engineering model under a 40-month risk reduction contract with the U.S. Air Force.

In May, the Air Force announced the formation of the Advanced EHF national team, consisting of TRW, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, to develop the new system on an accelerated schedule. TRW's role is to supply the satellites' digital processing subsystem, a nulling antenna subsystem that prevents adversaries from jamming signals to and from the satellite, and the inter-satellite crosslinks. The crosslink subsystem enables Advanced EHF satellites to globally route messages directly to each other and on to user terminals around the globe, without the need for ground stations.

Hughes Leverages ComSats Into Bid for DoD's Wideband Gapfiller System

El Segundo - Sept. 12, 2000

Hughes has proposed a system solution consisting of several high-power, high-capacity satellites, with associated spacecraft and payload control segments, to the Department of Defense (DoD) for the Wideband Gapfiller Satellite program.