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  • Satellite Evolution

Thales Alenia Space to provide state-of-the-art digital processor for Korea’s GEO-KOMPSAT-3

Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has announced that it has signed a contract with the South Korean aerospace manufacturer and defense company, LIG Nex1 Co., Ltd., to provide a state-of-the-art Digital Processor for the GEO-KOMPSAT-3 communications satellite.

Scheduled for launch in 2027, GEO-KOMPSAT-3 (Geostationary Earth Orbit Korea Multipurpose Satellite 3) is a multi-band communications satellite that will provide broadband satellite communication services in the Korean Peninsula and surrounding maritime areas, ensuring service continuity of COMS-1 satellite, currently in operations in-orbit. In particular, it will support the Korea Coast Guard satellite communications for national maritime rescue and protection; secure stable information on monitoring water disasters in mountains, rivers and dams to the Ministry of Environment; and provide the Ministry of Science and ICT with a satellite communication system for emergency response to disaster situations, as well as with an advanced testbed for domestic satellite communication research activities.

In addition, GEO-KOMPSAT-3 will also feature a Data Collection System (DCS) mission for gathering and retransmitting environmental and water related data; and a Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) mission for satellite navigation augmentation service, particularly to support safe aircraft landing approach operations with vertical guidance.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) of Korea is responsible for the satellite payloads, while the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) is responsible for the satellite platform.

State-of-the-art Digital Processor

The state-of-the-art, fully reprogrammable Digital Processor is a core element of the Ka-band Flexible Broadband Communication System payload, combining both transparent and regenerative signal processing by means of Digital Channelizer Units (DCU) and On-Board Processing Units (OBPU) sections, respectively. DCU implement digital filtering and switching functions with reconfigurable mapping of input and output ports, channels and subchannels between different satellite beams; while OBPU perform demodulation, decoding, IP-based onboard switching, encoding and modulation of the communication signals, thus maximizing the efficient use of the satellite capacity.

Thales Alenia Space in Spain is responsible for the Digital Processor specification, design, development, assembly, integration and test (AIT) and delivery. Thales Alenia Space will also support LIG Nex1 and ETRI at system engineering and AIT level, in a co-engineering cooperation approach to ensure smooth integration of the Digital Processor with the nationally developed Ground Support Equipment and Ground Segment.

The GEO-KOMPSAT-3 Digital Processor relies on Thales Alenia Space’s PRODIGE product suite of flight-proven flexible RF digital processors for compact, digitally processed, satellite communication payloads. This software-defined, reconfigurable product family is based on a scalable, modular design readily adaptable to different customer needs and frequency bands.

“We are extremely proud of receiving the trust of LIG Nex1 and ETRI for the development of the state-of-the-art Digital Processor for the GEO-KOMPSAT-3 satellite, a key mission to provide vital communication services in Korea”, said Stéphane Terranova, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in Spain. “This contract confirms the worldwide leading position and ability of Thales Alenia Space to match the evolving needs in the satellite communications market, providing competitive solutions both in the areas of transparent and regenerative on-board digital processing and opens a new chapter in the long success story between our company and South Korea.”

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