UCLA Extension

Ground Segment and Earth Station Engineering for Satellite Communications

A 3-Day Short Course

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.

Complete Details

This course presents a comprehensive, up-to-date development of ground segment engineering principles and practical techniques for satellite communications engineers, earth station developers and operators, enterprise network engineers, electronics maintenance engineers, and providers of voice, data, video, and Internet services with GEO and non-GEO satellites. Instruction addresses earth station design, user 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 wireless 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 networking, 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. These capabilities apply to commercial as well as government military and civil uses.

Participants learn to:

  • Design an earth station from system requirements (top down) and component and subsystem performance (bottom up), taking into account RF terminal, baseband system, and supporting facility needs in reliable power and the physical plant
  • Perform tradeoff studies to determine the optimal RF terminal design
  • Evaluate the critical questions that can hamper the introduction of the ground segment and earth stations, including radio frequency interference and coordination, maintainability and survivability, and effective monitor and control of the entire terrestrial infrastructure
  • Create performance budgets and allocations using link budgets and RF gain and noise budgeting techniques
  • Understand the design and construction of major earth stations used as digital TV broadcast origination centers, VSAT hubs, and mobile gateways
  • Select appropriate devices for user 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 and vehicular use

Throughout the course, participants are encouraged to ask questions and discuss the specific issues that they face on the job.

Course MaterialsS

The text, The Satellite Communication Ground Segment and Earth Station Handbook, B. Elbert (Artech House, 2001), and updated lecture notes are distributed on the first day of the course. The notes are for participants only and are not for sale.

Coordinator and Lecturer

Bruce R. Elbert, MSEE, MBA, President, Application Technology Strategy, Inc., Thousand Oaks, California; and Adjunct Professor, College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Mr. Elbert is a recognized satellite communications expert and has been involved in the satellite and telecommunications industries for over 30 years. He founded ATSI to assist major private and public sector organizations that develop and operate cutting-edge networks using satellite technologies and services. 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 (the largest and most successful satellite TV system in the world); 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 satellite systems, Mr. Elbert has contributed to the economic success of leading organizations in the field. He has written seven books on telecommunications and IT, including The Satellite Communication Applications Handbook, Second Edition (Artech House, 2004); The Satellite Communication Ground Segment and Earth Station Handbook (Artech House, 2001); and Introduction to Satellite Communication, Second Edition (Artech House, 1999).

Course Program

Ground Segment and Earth Station Fundamentals

  • Evolution of satellite communication earth stations—from major international gateways to the home dish installation
  • 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
  • One-way (broadcast) services
    — Digital video broadcasting of TV; the DVB-S and DVB-S2 standards
    — Digital audio broadcast
  • System design analysis
    — Service objectives (QoS and capacity)
    — Allocation of impairments between space and ground
    — Derivation of earth station requirements

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)
    — LNA/LNB and downconverter chain
    — Optimization of RF terminal configuration and performance (redundancy, power combining, and safety)
  • Baseband equipment configuration and integration
  • 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 study

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 handheld UTs
    — Analysis of the typical digital mobile phone
    — Design of on-the-move terminals and auto-pointing systems
    — Configuration for government services
    — Extensions for aeronautical, maritime, and data applications

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