RF Communications for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

NASA Selects NuWaves Engineering to Develop K-Band PA for OTH UAS Data Links

By Caroline Rees / 28 Jun 2016
NASA selects NuWaves for HYPERION project

A visual of the proposed module.

NuWaves Engineering has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract from NASA to research and develop a high-efficiency Ku- or Ka-band RF power amplifier (PA) monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) device for over-the-horizon (OTH) command and control (C2) data communications with Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

The goal of the research project, named HYPERION, is to design and develop a high-efficiency (≥ 50%) PA MMIC for incorporation into UAS C2 satellite communications (SATCOM) data links, which augment traditional line-of-sight communications. For instance, future commercial UAS operations call for transoceanic flights which would require an OTH communications capability. The PA MMIC will incorporate a Doherty amplifier to maintain power efficiency over a wide range of RF input levels. This wide dynamic range can support a number of different waveforms, from constant-envelope waveforms, such as frequency shift keying (FSK) and binary phase shift keying (BPSK), to more complex waveforms, such as quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM). The HYPERION PA is expected to deliver saturated power (Psat) of approximately 25 Watts and at least 18 dB of small signal gain.

“NuWaves is thrilled with the opportunity to continue supporting NASA’s efforts to safely integrate UAS into the National Airspace System.” said Jeff Wells, President and CEO of NuWaves Engineering. “We’ve built a strong PA development capability, including our recent high-efficiency C-band PA MMIC development for NASA on a Phase II SBIR project, and now we’re able to leverage this work to support satellite communications in higher frequency bands.”

Posted by Caroline Rees Caroline co-founded Unmanned Systems Technology and has been at the forefront of the business ever since. With a Masters Degree in marketing Caroline has her finger on the pulse of all things unmanned and is committed to showcasing the very latest in unmanned technical innovation. Connect & Contact