SELECTOR’s project proposal aims to develop Miniature Electro Mechanical Relay (MEMR), a high miniaturization, Surface-Mount Technology (SMT)-compatible, electromechanical switch for the space sector. MEMR can be used within reconfigurable microwave space subsystems in line with satellite evolution toward more digital satellites, which allow high data capacity. Very High Throughput Satellite (VHTS) is the solution to decrease the cost per bit (€/Gbps) of satellite telecommunications. The satellite payload is constituted of a digital core and the digital transparent processor (DTP), which is surrounded by frequency converter units. The number of frequency converter channels in VHTS systems has increased from a few dozens of equipment to several hundred, compared to standard satellite architecture. As a result, in order to remain competitive without compromising reliability, stronger cost and mass constraints are enforced on such equipment.
Redundancy rings are mandatory to achieve an operational lifetime of more than 15 years; however, they are increasingly difficult to implement at a reasonable cost and weight because they are centralized at payload level and individually driven by telecommand and telemetry satellite bus.
The targeted demonstrator, a VHTS requirement, is a Ka band compact redundancy ring based on SMT to minimize cost and improve integration. The proposal relies on successful market introduction of the first-generation MEMR, which is limited in frequency, RF power and reliability, solely addressing the Automatic Test Equipment (ATE) ground sector. MEMR is already produced in large quantity (> 25,000 units per year for Radiall) for frequencies up to X band under reference R596. Since 2017, Radiall has launched new MEMRs that operate up to 26.5 GHz under reference R516. Thanks to Radiall’s unique proprietary technology, the MEMR component will be upgraded to be space compliant. A factor of 10 gain in mass is anticipated, compared to standard electromechanical switches. An increased footprint gain is also accounted for the same SPDT function as depicted in the following figure.
Size comparison between the standard coaxial SPDT and newly developed MEMR, designed for SELECTOR to use as a starting point for ATE sector.
Deliver a Ka band (32 GHz) MEMR component to the European Space industry, with a status of European Preferred Part List (EPPL) granted by ESA, thus reaching TRL 7.
Demonstrate up to TRL 6 MEMR implementation into a Ka band (30 GHz) compact redundancy ring based on SMT technology and embedded waveguides.
Extend MEMR capability in high frequency (up to 44 GHz) and high RF power (up to 25 W at 20 GHz) for wider application in space and ground sectors up to TRL 5.
Achieve reliable technology and highly-complex MEMR components and equipment through innovative, short-time qualification methods and tools.
The innovative character of the proposed SELECTOR concept is related to its methodological approach of demonstrating the selected technology and its targeted space application in an operational environment. Illustrated in the figure below, developing the targeted SELECTOR MEMR component for the space environment to reach EPPL standards will enable the implementation of a Ka band compact redundancy ring.
MEMR products and system demonstration, including their respective pre-industrialization and testing in real space mission conditions, will be carried out within the SELECTOR project.
At redundancy ring level: a 20% mass reduction and 50% footprint reduction from using the SELECTOR MEMR component to build a 30 GHz compact redundancy ring with SMT.
At meta equipment level: an overall 50% minimum of cost and 50% additional mass reduction will be achieved by using SMT instead of microelectronic hybrid technology.
At payload Assembly, Integration and Test (AIT) level: new architecture is now possible, and equipment is more autonomous because they include their own redundancy. This approach relaxes design complexity, resulting in testing constraints at each level of payload. This leads to a non-recurring savings of 100 k€ on each payload program.