First Time in Russia: Ground-based Station Received X-Band Data from CubeSat Satellite

30 June 2021
For over two months, SCANEX ground-based station has been receiving data on X-band radio frequency (10.5 GHz) from the OrbiCraft-Zorkiy small satellite developed by SPUTNIX Company. The overall volume of received data exceeds 1 GB.

OrbiCraft-Zorkiy satellite was put into orbit in March 2021. It was developed by SPUTNIX using the new CubeSat 6U nanosatellite platform SXC6 (See here for more information).

The main satellite payload is the ERS camera with the spatial resolution of 6 m per pixel developed by the Lepton Research and Production Association. The payload data is transmitted to the ground in a 10.5 GHz radio band at a rate of up to 10 Mbit/s. Examples of the received images are available here. The project is supported by the Innovation Assistance Foundation as part of the «On Planet Duty» program and «Space π» project.

The ERS data is transmitted in huge volumes, thus, broadband channels are required. In Russia, it is the first time that high-resolution ERS images from small satellites are transmitted using a high-speed X-band, which is a significant industry event.

Transmission on a 10.45-10.50 GHz frequency is subject to the radio regulations for amateur satellite communication. Using this frequency range in non-commercial projects makes the legal registration significantly easier and cheaper. However, there were no ground-based stations for receiving data from low-orbiting satellites in this range. Therefore, SCANEX with the help of the Innovation Assistance Foundation upgraded one of the UniScan stations that received data on the 8 GHz frequency. Now the station is able to receive data in both bands: in the 8 GHz band used by all the well-known ERS satellites, as well as in 10.5 GHz band. Any of the numerous operating UniScan stations can be upgraded in the same way.

«Now it is possible to receive ERS data from satellites like CubeSat, and then use it in research and student projects, as well as in addressing state and business challenges in the future. Project Space π opens up great opportunities, for instance, to develop our own remote sensing satellite and use its imagery data for tackling digital economy matters. Our receiving stations can be a major part of such projects. We expect new CubeSats to be put into orbit in the nearest future, and we are ready to provide an operating network of stations that receive data both in 8 GHz and 10 GHz bands», said Marina Voronina, Head of the Education Projects Department at SCANEX Group.

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