Surrey Blog

OTB Blog Series: FlexRX Receiver to Gain In-Orbit Heritage

With payload integration now underway on our OTB satellite and the RadMon sensor already onboard, our next step is to integrate the experimental Surrey FlexRX receiver. Part of the Surrey primary payload suite that includes the Electronics Test Bed and the RadMon sensor, FlexRX will be gaining valuable in-orbit heritage in preparation for commercial use on future satellite missions.
Surrey's FlexRX receiver
FlexRX is our next-generation programmable satellite receiver, an enhanced version of a legacy device flown on numerous earlier missions. A FlexRX twin is already in orbit and being tested on the Surrey TechDemoSat-1 launched in July 2014. The performance data collected during the OTB and TechDemoSat-1 missions will help us quickly validate the receiver’s readiness for our own operational use and future use by our customers.
The most important technological advancement in FlexRX is its ability to receive data transmitted from the ground at higher uplink rates than the receivers used now. The telemetry commands are received from controllers on the ground, transmitted in the form of radio signals from ground stations.  These commands program the satellite to perform various tasks and maintain its overall operation, keeping it safely in orbit.
Satellites can only receive the telecommand data when they have line-of-sight contact with the station. Depending on the orbit of the satellite, this connection time may last just a few minutes before the satellite passes out of sight over the horizon. If the time is brief, the ground station may not be able to transmit all of the necessary commands to the satellite. An obvious solution to this problem is to transmit and receive telemetry at a faster rate.
Surrey has designed the FlexRX to handle incoming data transmissions at a variety of rates. Once we launch OTB in 2016, FlexRX will serve as the primary instrument receiving ground station commands. The goal will be to transmit information from the ground at different rates to confirm the highest stable uplink rate possible for the new receiver throughout the ground station passes.  Satellite performance data beamed back to the ground station through a separate instrument will tell us the maximum rate achieved.
We should know the maximum receiving rate shortly after launch. We will then continue to monitor the operation of FlexRX, continuing the experiment throughout the mission life. A legacy receiver will also fly on OTB as a backup to the experimental one.  Based on how the FlexRX performs during commissioning, the receiver may be available for commercial use long before the OTB mission ends.


28 May 20150 Comments1 Comment

Back to Blog

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.