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Software-Defined Radio (SDR) Payload Research and Development to Support Future CubeSat Missions

This proposal describes the study and initial test effort associated with developing a software-defined radio payload to perform broadcast and receive experiments at frequencies of current and future interest. NPS will use the Mobile CubeSat Command and Control (MC3) ground station network as the ground segment to support these experiments. For example, the MC3 ground station network is currently supporting the PropCube mission, and other CubeSats of national interest are scheduled to be launched soon. Foundational to this project is the joint work that AFIT and NPS are doing in the area of CubeSat research and development. AFIT has one of the MC3 ground stations and is working actively in developing and flying CubeSats, including a 3U such as FalconSat7 and Supernova, a 6U. NPS will be supporting FalconSat7 with the MC3 network. This particular proposal is expected to do the research and development needed for on-orbit software-defined radios (SDRs) that can not only transmit and receive in existing frequency bands, such as UHF and S-band, but can transmit in bands of great interest in the future, such as X-band and perhaps even Ka-band. These transmitters and receivers are needed for TT&C and for payload applications. This supports DoD Space efforts in the emerging field of very small satellites. This applied research effort requires actual hardware and software at NPS and in the field for test and experiment. The growing acceptance of the CubeSat, a very small satellite, as a means of accomplishing focused research objectives of national interest makes this project of great interest to the Space Systems Academic Group at NPS. The Naval Officers and other students in the NPS Space Systems Engineering and Operations curricula have the opportunity to participate in Directed Studies and Thesis research related to this proposal. The Space Systems curricula benefit from the opportunity to integrate laboratories which use active satellites in orbit and an active network of ground stations. In addition, this work supports the development of national capabilities in space to ultimately benefit the Naval Service and the warfighter.
Space Systems Academic Group
Department of Defense Space