Industry and university collaboration for Software Defined Radio for space applications

By replacing traditional hardware for satellite communication with software based systems Luleå University of Technology (LTU) and Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) aims to change the way the telemetry and telecommand is performed in the future.

 Software-defined radio (SDR) is a radio communication system where components that have been traditionally implemented in hardware (e.g. mixers, filters, amplifiers, modulators/demodulators, detectors, etc.) are instead implemented by means of software on a common off-the-shelf server. SDR has been used in the military and mobile telephony industry for quite some time, and with the increasing capacity in personal computers and new hardware for SDR, this technology offers a broader field of application – for example communication with satellites.

SDR enables space operations changes on both  ground segment, as well as on board the satellite itself – allowing upgrades and repairs of radio protocols during a satellites lifetime. Reconfigurability enables weight reductions, and potential for cost savings.

– The SDR technology has potential benefits for our operations both in terms of scalability, reliability and maintainability and is an important piece to meet the fast changing requirements of the newspace type of customers, says Petrus Hyvönen, systems engineer at SSC.

Ph.D. student Moses Browne Mwakyanjala at Luleå University of Technology has been working on the software since 2016 and will continue throughout 2019. He is hoping that the project will result in a post-doctoral programme in order to let him  continue working satellite communications:

– Focusing on a  technical challenge in close partnership with the space industry has definitely opened up possibilities for me throughout stages of analysis and testing, as well as given me a platform to grow my network and career opportunities for the future.

Initiated through the RIT project in 2015

Moses Browne Mwakyanjala’s PhD research was initiated through RIT (Space for innovation & growth) – an EU funded project led by Luleå University of Technology and LTU Business that was concluded in 2018.

Its successor RIT 2021 aims to continue to develop  the eco-system around  space  by connecting industry, academia and commercialization support such as business development, incubation and investors. The project has a broad foundation with partners and sponsors from both the private and public sector – a key to the success of the first RIT project. Johanna Bergström Roos is the project manager for RIT and RIT 2021:

– The first RIT project gave us the opportunity to initiate several important steps to strengthen Norrbotten as the leading space region in Sweden. We have built up a new arena for R&D collaboration, which is the bas of new knowledge and innovation, and managed to attract the right partners. RIT 2021 is all about consolidating what we have achieved so far and ensures a continuation beyond 2021.