A lot has changed since EM Solution’s founder Dr. John Ness built circuits for space some 30 years ago. In those days it took a long time to get approval to use surface mount components even though these were much smaller, lighter and more reliable than the, then, old fashioned wire-wound components. The predecessor space circuits look very primitive by comparison.
As with most innovations, there were barriers to getting the technology onboard -or rather- getting the people onboard with the technology. While surface mounts had been in commercial use for around 10 years, they had not been qualified for space. Once qualified, people became more comfortable adopting the technology that is still used to this day.
Continuing on that trajectory to the present day, EM Solutions welcomes the commissioning of the Australian Space Agency. Since the Australian Space Office (ASO) was disbanded in 1996, there has been no official space research and exploration agency coordinating space activity in Australia. The new Australian Space Agency provides many exciting opportunities not only for researchers, but all types of space enthusiasts.
Although things may have seemed dormant, EM Solutions has been quietly active in the space sector. Our Senior RF Engineer, Marshall Lewis, has been working with Space Flight Laboratories in Toronto to build three X-band upconverters for one of their next-generation microsatellites that will be used for signal detection. Due for completion in May 2019, the upconverters will have a nominal output power of 1W at an output frequency of 8-8.4GHz. EM Solutions will soon be testing the engineering model and manufacture of the flight model that will go into the satellites.
As in the past, the company faces the challenge that some technology is not initially space qualified. To overcome this, our manufacturing staff perform additional process steps to ensure a space-qualifiable end product. This includes assembling units in laminar flow cabinets and taking Xray images to identify any voids in the soldering work on the PCBs.
Two years earlier, EM Solutions supplied two flight model Ka band transceivers (Tx = Uplink: 27.5 – 30.0 GHz Downlink: 17.7 – 20.2 GHz) with 5W output power each. Unfortunately, the units did not make it into space due to a satellite launch issue! However, both X and Ka units were compatible with Space Flight Laboratory’s existing S-band transmitter core board, and we look forward to seeing these types of units deployed on future satellites.
For the future, EM Solutions are looking forward to increased business opportunities within the space sector. The company is working with Teledyne to make test jigs and is preparing to work with Thales on upcoming space projects. Our experience and extensive knowledge of ground systems i.e. satellite communications, make EM Solutions the ideal partner for both budding and established industrial space enthusiasts.