UCLA Extension

Ground Segment and Earth Station Engineering for Satellite Communications

June 14-16

Gain a comprehensive, up-to-date development of ground segment engineering principles and practical techniques with emphasis on latest technologies and techniques. Learn earth station design, remote terminal configuration and production, and facility design and operation, and gain a detailed understanding on how to proceed with complex projects.

Complete Details

Satellite communications systems rely on orbiting satellites to provide reliable wireless transmission, in conjunction with the ground-based infrastructure that delivers a wide range of narrowband and broadband services. This ground segment comprises major earth stations and user terminals that have been configured and optimized for cost-effective fixed and mobile applications. Owing to the diversity of new applications based on the Internet Protocol and the DVB-S and S2 and MPEG 2 and 4 series of standards and the availability of high-power satellite capacity on a global basis, these systems have become vital to users in both the commercial and government sectors. Furthermore, the spacecraft themselves require robust ground segment capabilities during every phase of a mission – from initial orbit through testing and into their operating lifetimes. Tracking antennas and ground communications equipment form the vital link for management of space assets and collection of scientific and resource data.

This course presents a comprehensive, up-to-date development of ground segment engineering principles and practical techniques for spacecraft engineers, earth station developers and operators, electronics maintenance engineers, and providers of communications and control services with GEO and non-GEO spacecraft. Instruction addresses earth station design, remote terminal configuration and production, and facility design and operation, providing a detailed and integrated understanding of how to proceed with complex projects. Of particular interest are compact terminals for portable and mobile (on-the-move) applications. Throughout the course, emphasis is on the latest technologies and techniques, particularly in the areas of digital communications and standards, RF and baseband design, bandwidth-efficient modulation and modern forward error-correcting codes, and production of a workable ground-based facility that meets both current needs and future requirements.

Course methodologies and examples come from a variety of applications in satellite communications and operation, including fixed and mobile voice and data, Internet services via satellite, digital video and audio broadcasting, high-speed delivery of broadband and multimedia content, and international telecommunications services that integrate both satellite and land-based cable and wireless systems. Additional cases relate to tracking and acquisition of data and the selection of the most cost-effective system to meet complex needs. These capabilities apply to commercial as well as government military and civil uses.

The course also helps participants to:

  1. Design an earth station from system requirements (top down) and component and subsystem performance (bottom up), taking into account the antenna, RF terminal, baseband system, and supporting facility needs in reliable power and the physical plant
  2. Perform tradeoff studies to determine the optimal RF terminal design
  3. Evaluate the critical questions that can hamper the introduction of the ground segment and earth stations, including radio frequency interference and coordination, spacecraft tracking, maintainability and survivability, and effective monitor and control of the entire earth/space infrastructure
  4. Create performance budgets and allocations using link budgets and RF gain and noise budgeting techniques
  5. Understand the design and construction of major earth stations used as digital TV broadcast origination centers, VSAT hubs, mobile gateways, TT&C and data acquisition sites
  6. Select appropriate devices for remote terminal implementation, including antenna (fixed and auto-pointing), RF electronics, baseband functions, and the end user interface for fixed installation and mobile terminals for handheld, vehicular and aircraft use

Course Materials

The text, The Satellite Communication Ground Segment and Earth Station Handbook, 2nd Edition, B. Elbert (Artech House, 2014), and updated lecture notes are distributed on the first day of the course.

Coordinator and Lecturer

Bruce R. Elbert, MSEE, MBA, President, Application Technology Strategy, L.L.C., Austin, TX; and Adjunct Professor (ret), College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Mr. Elbert is a recognized satellite communications and operation expert and has been involved in the satellite and space industries for over 40 years. He founded ATS to assist major private and public sector organizations that develop and operate cutting-edge systems using satellite and space technologies and services. He was involved in the complete end-to-end evaluation of a major non-GEO satellite system and contributed to the planning for future space relay systems. During 25 years with Hughes Electronics, he directed the design of several major satellite projects, including Palapa A, Indonesia’s original satellite system; the Galaxy follow-on system, increasing the number of spacecraft from 2 to over 14; and the development of the first GEO mobile satellite system capable of serving handheld user terminals. By considering the technical, business, and operational aspects of space systems, Mr. Elbert has contributed to the economic success of leading organizations in the field. He has written seven books on space and satellite communications , including The Satellite Communication Applications Handbook, Second Edition (Artech House, 2004); The Satellite Communication Ground Segment and Earth Station Handbook, Second Edition(Artech House, 2014); and Introduction to Satellite Communication, Third Edition (Artech House, 2008).

Course Outline

Ground Segment and Earth Station Fundamentals

  • Evolution of satellite communication earth stations—from major international gateways to the home dish installation, from space vehicle tracking to complex constellation management
  • Earth station design philosophy for performance and operational effectiveness
  • Engineering principles
    • Review of RF link budget; propagation and polarization
    • Digital modems and coding for error correction
    • Multiple access systems: FDMA, TDMA, and CDMA; performance and control
    • End-to-end network integration: design and test strategy to minimize risk
  • Radio frequency clearance and interference consideration
    • RFI prediction techniques
    • Interference criteria and coordination
    • Site selection
    • RFI problem identification and resolution

Service Requirements and Delivery

  • Two-way communications services
    • Satellite-based voice networks, speech compression
    • VSAT data networks (STAR and MESH)
    • On-the move systems: vehicle, aircraft and ship
  • One-way (broadcast) services
    • Digital video broadcasting of TV; the DVB-S and DVB-S2 standards
    • Digital audio broadcast
  • Spacecraft tracking and data relay
    • Spacecraft orbits and trajectory analysis
    • Telemetry and command requirements and data formats
    • Selection of ground-based or space-based relay

Major Earth Station Engineering

  • RF terminal design and optimization
    • Antennas for major earth stations (fixed and tracking)
    • Upconverter and HPA chain (SSPA, TWTA, and KPA); intermodulation control
    • LNA/LNB and downconverter chain
    • Optimization of RF terminal configuration and performance (redundancy, power combining, and safety)
  • Baseband equipment configuration and integration
    • Modems and multiplex
    • Data acquisition and processing
  • Designing and verifying the terrestrial interface
  • Station monitor and control
  • Facility design and implementation
    • Prime power and UPS systems
    • Developing environmental requirements (HVAC)
    • Building design and construction
    • Grounding and lightening control
  • Major earth station design case studies
    • Teleport installation for voice and data
    • TT&C station for LEOPS and data relay

Major User Terminals for Fixed and Mobile Applications

  • User Terminals for Fixed and Mobile Applications
    • General configuration of user terminal (UT)
    • RF head section (outdoor equipment)
    • Baseband section (indoor equipment)
    • User interface (common devices and custom features)
  • Antennas for UTs
    • Fixed directional antennas (dish and array)
    • Tracking and auto-pointing antenna designs (mechanical and electronic steered)
    • Omni-directional antennas for handheld mobile applications
  • Baseband functions
    • Digital radio design principles
    • Software Designed Radio applications
  • Fixed terminals
    • Receive only digital set-top-box (DVB)
    • Two-way VSAT
  • Special considerations for portable and mobile terminals
    • Analysis of the typical digital mobile phone
    • Design of on-the-move terminals and auto-pointing systems
    • Configuration for government services
    • Extensions for aeronautical and maritime

Course Details

Dates: June 14-16 (Tue-Thu)

Time: 8am-5pm (subject to adjustment after the first class)

Location: UCLA Extension Building, 10995 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles in room G33 West

Reg#: 261483

Course No.: 881.217

Units: 1.8 CEU (18 hours of instruction)

Fee: Through May 14: $2905 | After: $3195

For more information contact the Short Course Program Office:
shortcourses@uclaextension.edu| (310) 825-3344 | fax (310) 206-2815