Korean Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy visits INSTER Spain to witness development of a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications terminal

The Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy of Korea, H.E. Mr. Moon Sungwook, visited INSTER to learn about the progress of the development of a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite  communications terminal for NewSpace - a Eureka-supported R&D collaboration between Spain and South Korea.

  • The NewSpace concept, regarding LEO satellite constellations and its corresponding ground-based terminals and applications, emerges as a paradigm for high-bandwidth ubiquitous communications for the digital world, just as 5G is for terrestrial ones, a convergence between the two being expected.
  • This development is being carried out by the Spanish company INSTER, responsible for the antenna terminal, and the Korean companies ASAT and ETRI, responsible for the modem.
  • The Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) and its South Korean counterpart, the Korea Institute for the Advancement of Technology (KIAT), are funding this project under the Eureka program.
  • This project will position INSTER at the technological forefront of LEO satellite communications and will allow it to lead its deployment in cutting-edge fields such as connected and autonomous terrestrial and aerial vehicles or the extension of broadband communications in areas without coverage.

The Minister of International Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE), H.E. Mr. Moon Sungwook, has visited the facilities of the Spanish company INSTER Technology and Communications in Getafe (Madrid). The Minister, accompanied by a delegation of senior officials and technicians from MOTIE, met with the R&D team responsible for developing a broadband communications terminal for the new LEO satellite constellations.

The MOTIE delegation was received by executives from INSTER and its parent company, the CPS Group, as well as by the head of Department of Foreign Technology Action of CDTI, Ms. Ángeles Valbuena.

At the end of 2019, CDTI and its counterpart in South Korea, KIAT, resolved the grants to finance the development proposal made by INSTER, ASAT and ETRI. The collaboration framework is the Korea-Spain bilateral within the European EUREKA program. The project started in January 2020 and will end in early 2023 with a fully operational demonstrator terminal.
As for the project task distribution, INSTER is developing the antenna terminal. This device is an electronically steerable antenna (ESA) consisting of an array of tiny antennas whose signals are electronically managed using hybrid analogue-digital beamforming techniques. All of them operate in the millimetre wave range, with frequencies between 17 GHz and 30 GHz.
By means of powerful digital signal processing mechanisms and complex algorithms, it is possible to perform the pointing to LEO satellites even when the reception of orbit information is lost.

These satellites complete a full circle around the Earth every 90 minutes, with speeds 10 times faster than a bullet. When the satellite leaves the field of view, the antenna must already be pointed at the next satellite so as not to lose connection at any time, performing this operation every 15 minutes. If the terminal is installed in vehicles, this process is even more complex, as it must also track the vehicle's movements at all times.

The Korean companies ASAT and ETRI are responsible for designing the baseband or modem system. It is an open solution compliant with the innovative DVB-S2X standard. This standard enables high bandwidth transmission, particularly in ultra-high definition video and IP communications applications. To implement the standards, ASAT and ETRI's employ beam hopping mechanisms, which consist in directing the signal beams to different cells by multiplexing them in time. This allows flexible reconfiguration of data traffic according to demand and ultimately increases system capacity.
The LEO terminal under development will incorporate technological features similar to those used in 5G, optimizing the use of resources and similarly providing enormous bandwidths with very low latencies, even lower than those of optical fibre in intercontinental segments, with the advantage of providing global coverage.

This project is a key pillar in INSTER's strategy in next-generation satellite communications for the digital world, positioning the company at the technological forefront and enabling it to lead its deployment in applications derived from the dynamic New Space market. To cite a few examples, in cutting-edge fields such as connected and autonomous terrestrial and aerial vehicles or the extension of broadband in areas without fibre deployment.

Borja Comino, representative of the shareholders of the CPS Group, and Dr Maria Graña, project manager at INSTER, showed the results to date of the project, which has already passed the Critical Design Review (CDR) milestone and whose hardware is already under implementation. During the visit, the Korean delegation was able to check INSTER’s design using three-dimensional dynamic imagery. Mr. Kim Haesso, responsible for the design at ASAT and ETRI, showed the progress of the new modem, whose hardware prototype is already available, on video from Korea.

Note to editors
INSTER (www.inster.es) is an engineering and technology company which develops and markets innovative and cutting-edge products and solutions in the area of wireless satellite and terrestrial communications under strict military and operator quality standards for both the civil and military markets. It belongs to the CPS Group, a family business corporation with 100% Spanish capital, formed by technology and engineering companies active in the Intelligent Transport, Railways, Airports, Telecommunications, Defence and Security sectors. INSTER is headquartered in Getafe (Madrid) and has an R&D centre in Nigrán (Vigo).

ASAT (www.asat.kr), is a company specialized in products and solutions for satellite communications such as modems, ground stations and management systems. It provides the complete service cycle of its products, from design to maintenance. Its customers include the Ministry of defence and the South Korean Coast Guard. ASAT is located in Seongnam City, Gyeonggi Province.

ETRI (www.etri.re.kr), is a governmental research organization in the field of electronics and telecommunications. Its research and development activities are focused on Artificial Intelligence and Telecommunications, with emphasis on 5th and 6th generation mobile communications, satellite communications and content creation media. ETRI is headquartered in Daejeon, Chungcheong Province.