MIMO and Cooperative Communications for New Space – Phase 1: Feasibility Study


Project Leader: Dr Balachander Ramamurthy, DST Group

Participants: Defence Science and Technology Group of The Department of Defence, University of South Australia

Smart small satellite constellations in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) enable a whole new class of opportunities for Defence in the “New Space” paradigm. Underpinned byDSTs Resilient Multi-Mission Space STaR Shot, these opportunities are envisioned to be transitioned into fit-for-purpose operational capabilities across surveillance, space situational awareness, position navigation and timing (PNT), geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) and resilient global communications. To support such a mission with an increasing level of autonomy, flexible interconnected communication architectures and protocols are paramount.

The aim of this project is to investigate novel communications technologies towards achieving a resilient communications architecture between satellites flying in formation, the ground network and users. Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) and cooperative communications have facilitated some great
developments in terrestrial communication systems, including the application of massive MIMO as a core-enabling technology in 5G mobile communications. The parallels from these technologies will be explored for small satellite missions; to securely task space missions for near real-time operations, to enable an efficient network of active space sensors to facilitate distributed/centralised data processing and dissemination of processed/raw payload data back to ground network and directly to warfighters.

This scoping study phase strongly aligns to DST Group’s Resilient Multi-Mission Space STaR Shot. The project will deliver a feasibility study report, with identified technologies, channel models and delivery of a simulation framework with advanced signal processing algorithms and architectures. These will have strong alignment to Defence applications and with a vision to transitioning for further proof of concept prototype demonstrations in subsequent project phases.