By WARREN FERSTER
WASHINGTON – A longtime provider of flat-panel, electronically steered satellite communication (SATCOM) antennas to U.S. government customers, Ball Aerospace is now leveraging that expertise for the commercial market with updated antennas that can be produced in large quantities at low cost.
The move coincides with early phase deployment of large satellite constellations for global broadband connectivity, and rollout of terrestrial 5G telecom networks. Both provide markets for what Ball is calling its Gen-2 phased array antenna system, designed to operate in both the Ku- and Ka-bands, and is part of Ball’s AIRLINK® family of antennas.
“We’re seeing market forces coming from the traditional SATCOM space and also from the emerging 5G markets that we believe are going to drive down the cost of these arrays and make them ubiquitous for multiple applications,” said Bryce Unruh, senior advanced systems manager in in Ball Aerospace’s Tactical Solutions division.
Colo.-based Ball Aerospace is perhaps best known as a maker of satellites and sensors for weather, scientific and military applications. But the company also has a Tactical Solutions business unit, whose products include electronically steered, or phased-array, antennas for military aircraft and other platforms.
Recent years have seen the emergence of several companies offering flat-panel, phased-array antennas for a satellite markets increasingly focused on mobile applications. Conforming to the exterior surface of aircraft and other vehicles, these kinds of antennas are ideal for tracking low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, which pass from horizon-to-horizon in a matter of minutes.