Elliptic Orbit Satellite Systems

Molniya orbit satellite systems follow elliptical orbits. Becuase they can avoid interference issues with geostationary satellit systems (such as satellite TV), the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has previously alocated significant bandwidth for these types of systems. For instance, the FCC granted a license to Virtual GEO with 4.5GHz of allowed bandwidth [1]. I published an article in the IEEE Access journal. The article is open access so it can be freely downloaded.

This is a short video I created that explains some of the benefits of elliptic orbit satellite systems.

In this video, I explain a bit more about elliptic orbit satellite systems.

Systems engineering of a satellite based data communication baseline concept is presented to achieve terabit per second throughput. It uses a constellation of 5 Molniya satellites and one dimension electronic scanning phased array ground terminals. The result is a baseline concept that meets customer needs for internet of things (IoT) data connectivity and for consumer high data rate internet access. Molniya orbit satellites provide the benefits of available bandwidth, lack of interference with other satellite links, and less crowded orbital paths. A drawback is that they are not geostationary since they have highly elliptical orbits. This requires ground station terminals with the ability track the satellites as they pass overhead during their orbit. However, since Molniya satellites with a properly selected eccentricity pass along the same path at nearly constant elevations relative to a fixed position on the Earth, simple and low cost single axis scanning antennas can be used for the consumer ground terminal. This is a distinct advantage compared to competing low earth orbit (LEO) constellations. The proposed solution leverages advances in semiconductor technology and low cost antenna laminate substrate materials for an affordable phased array tracking ground terminal antenna. This work presents link budget trade studies, system concept, orbital dynamics simulation results, and ground station component trade study.

[1] D. Castiel, et. al., ‘Application of Virtual Geosatellite LLC for authority to launch and operate the Virtual GEO satellite system’, filing with the US Federal Communications Commission, Virtual Geosatellite LLC, DA 06-2560, 8 January 1999.

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