Space missions present a unique set of environmental challenges that demand high reliability down to the smallest electronic components. Mission failures could cost human lives. From in-flight systems to power supplies, every single system contributes to the success of a space project, so they must maintain high quality and safety standards for long durations.
At this point, you’ve likely seen a slew of mainstream news articles about 5G causing safety concerns around air travel. In fact, ahead of the rollout of new 5G services from major US telecom companies including Verizon and AT&T on Jan. 19, 2022, many international airlines canceled or delayed flights to major US airports where they believed 5G signals could possibly interfere with the radar signals required to properly operate landing equipment on their planes.
This year, Knowles Precision Devices acquired Integrated Microwave Corporation (IMC), a leader in the design and manufacture of custom precision RF microwave filters and multiplexers for the aerospace, defense, and communications industries. This acquisition was particularly exciting as our two companies share deep expertise in engineering high-performance ceramics for RF and microwave applications. And, like Knowles Precision Devices, IMC also has a long heritage of supplying highly reliable components for mission critical space devices that includes applications such as the MARS Orbiters, MARS Landers, and MARS Rovers.
Achieving high capacitance means going big. But how do you do that while still maximizing board space? At Knowles Precision Devices, we’ve developed a new method for building customizable large capacitor assemblies that capitalize on the vertical space above the circuit board. While stacked capacitor assemblies have been around for many years, these parts do not have very good bump and vibration withstand due to the thin leads used in their construction. These new assemblies from Knowles Precision Devices offer a ruggedized construction capable of withstanding high levels of shock and vibration. This offers a unique combination of capability, durability, high capacitance, and very high voltage in a smaller area, making these capacitors ideal for automotive, military, and aerospace applications.
In recent years, the focus for satellite communication (SATCOM) applications has shifted from coverage to capacity. As a result, SATCOM devices are being pushed to operate at higher bandwidths in the Ka, V, and E bands. At the same time, these devices need to be made increasingly smaller, which means smallsats, or satellites weighing less than 500 kg, are quickly gaining momentum, making size, weight, and power (SWaP) critical design considerations as well.
Mark your calendars for Tuesday, September 14th at 11 am EDT, for our new live webinar - Exploring the Impacts of Today’s SATCOM Industry Trends on Tomorrow’s RF Architecture Designs - presented in conjunction with Microwave Journal.
Many critical military operations around the world are increasingly relying on a variety of electronic warfare devices for a range of threat suppression, detection, and neutralization activities. This means that numerous devices operating across the RF spectrum including low-frequency devices in the VHF band and mmWave devices in the Ka band are necessary. As shown in Figure 1, when many electronic warfare devices are in use, a large number of signals are being sent and received and crossing paths. Therefore, it’s easy for any one of these devices to experience issues with interference if proper filtering techniques are not in place.
To provide a better understanding of build-to-print in general and the breadth of our offerings, as well as how our thin-film technology can benefit your applications, we’ve put together a Build-to-Print Basics series. In this final post of our Build-to-Print Basics series, we discuss the quality standards we follow to ensure our components are qualified for military and space grade applications as well as the additional testing or spec design we can perform as needed by our customers.
As early adopters of beamforming technology in the 1960s, aerospace and defense organizations have a lot of experience using the initial large-scale active electronically scanned arrays (AESAs) for military radar tracking applications. But these arrays aren’t as convenient for some applications today as the operational frequencies of the targets of interest for many military applications are increasing. This means the wavelengths of the signals that need to be monitored are getting shorter and these radar applications need denser arrays since antenna spacing needs to be set at one half the wavelength. For example, at 25GHz, the wavelength in free space is approximately 12mm (0.47”), leading to half-wave spacing for antennas of 6mm (0.24”). Also, as arrays become denser, the new challenge for RF system designers is avoiding interference in these tighter spaces, especially when transmitting signals.
Today, electronic warfare applications need to detect a wide variety of signals ranging from UHF communications to GPS and other data signals in the L band to high-frequency radar signals that can fall in the X, S, or K bands. Therefore, these receivers need to operate across an extremely wide range of bandwidths to pick up and understand signals anywhere from 300MHz to 20GHz and beyond. However, a basic general wideband antenna isn’t sufficient for these applications because selectivity is needed to determine what you are actually listening to. Additionally, as if the task of designing an ultra-wideband receiver with selectivity wasn’t challenging enough, RF designers are simultaneously facing pressure to reduce the size, weight, and power (SWaP) of these applications as well.