by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Dec 04, 2023
PathFinder Digital has recently been awarded U.S. Patent # 11,831,346 for a novel satellite communication antenna system, termed MONDO (Multi Orbit Network, Dual Operation terminal), signifying a significant advancement in military communication technology. This newly patented design is set to reshape the landscape of satellite communications, particularly in military contexts.
MONDO is specifically engineered to surmount the challenges faced by military personnel in establishing robust and agile communication links across GEO, LEO, and MEO satellite networks. Its unique VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) design ensures exceptional adaptability and interoperability, allowing seamless communication with any satellite network, irrespective of its orbital configuration.
Traditional satellite ground terminals have typically been constrained to operate on specific communication satellites or networks, limiting their flexibility in rapidly reconfiguring to communicate with alternative satellites. This restriction becomes critically limiting in scenarios of conflict, satellite disruptions due to hostile actions, on-orbit failures, or other unpredictable circumstances. PathFinder's MONDO ingeniously addresses these limitations by combining the strengths of both parabolic reflector antennas and electronically scanned arrays (ESAs).
Parabolic reflector antennas, known for their high gain, often fall short in speed and reliability when operating on LEO or MEO satellites. Conversely, ESAs excel in rapid electronic beam steering and compact design, ideal for mobile platforms and effective on MEO or LEO satellites. However, their lower gain on GEO satellites has been a disadvantage, particularly in military applications where uplink (user to satellite) data transfer is predominant.
MONDO's design integrates a primary and secondary parabolic reflector with a phased array antenna/ESA. This configuration allows the phased array antenna to serve as the feed for the parabolic reflector on GEO satellites and as a standalone antenna for LEO or MEO satellites. Notably, MONDO can function simultaneously as a traditional parabolic antenna on a GEO satellite and as an ESA on a LEO/MEO satellite. Additionally, variations of the MONDO design could incorporate parabolic antennas and/or ESAs from various manufacturers, enhancing its versatility.
This innovative ground terminal system merges the best characteristics of parabolic antennas and ESAs, offering a single, adaptable solution for diverse military communications needs. MONDO is particularly well-suited for "Flyaway" terminals (transportable case-based systems) and "Drive-Away" terminals (vehicle mounted) when stationary, addressing a significant demand in the military sector. Moreover, existing military terminals could be upgraded to MONDO's capabilities, enabling multi-network functionality. PathFinder also envisions future iterations of MONDO to feature multi-band capabilities, as dual-band Ka/Ku ESAs are developed.
Key features of the MONDO terminal include compatibility with multiple satellite network architectures, operation on disaggregated satcom network platforms (government, commercial, and international), the ability to use various frequency bands, and adaptability for installation on diverse platforms. Advanced antenna technologies such as Passive Electronically Scanned Array (PESA), Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA), Hybrid Phased Array, Digital Beam Forming (DBF) Array, and Hybrid Beam Forming (HBF) Array are integral to its design.
Roger McGarrahan, CEO of PathFinder Digital, emphasized the strategic importance of MONDO, stating, "We expect this breakthrough technology to enhance the military's ability to maintain secure and reliable satellite communications in an increasingly complex and contested environment. With the capacity to quickly transition between satellites and operate in different orbital configurations and frequency bands, the MONDO terminal offers a significant advantage in maintaining communication links in critical military operations. PathFinder intends to license this innovative antenna design to antenna manufacturers."
In conclusion, the MONDO satellite communications terminal represents a significant step forward in addressing the dynamic and demanding needs of military satellite communications, ensuring high availability rates and the flexibility to switch communication links as necessary. Its innovative design and adaptability mark a new chapter in the evolution of military communication technologies.