Microwave and High Voltage Devices Subdivision
Soflinger Strasse 100
D-7900 ULM (Donau)
Date Visited: June 24, 1992
Report Author: E. Miller
Dr. Andreas Peters
AEG is part of the Daimler-Benz Group, discussed in greater detail in the Background section of the MBB Deutsche Aerospace site visit report.
The AEG Microelectronics, Opto & Vacuum Electronics (O&VE) organization contains the Microwave and High Voltage Devices (MW & HVD) subdivision, which was the subject of this site visit. O&VE has about 1,500 employees, with a budget of about 250 million DM/yr. The MW & HVD subdivision has about 500 employees and a budget of about 110 million DM/yr. Its products include tubes for radar, electronic counter measure (ECM) equipment, earth stations and satellites. Their intention is to make their own line of travelling wave tubes amplifiers (TWTAs) for satellites.
World-wide, three major space tube manufacturers remain: AEG MW & HVD, Hughes Electronic Tube Division, and Thomson CSF Tubes Electroniques.
AEG has a long history in TWTs for space applications, beginning with tubes for the SYMPHONIE satellite in 1974. There are 385 TWTs built by AEG in orbit. Success is based on techniques and proprietary methods for building tubes well. "All competing companies have access to the same basic technologies. Each can apply certain technologies better than the others." AEG's achievements are shown in Table AEG.1.
Techniques employed in recent TWTs include:
Future improvements anticipated include:
TWT developments at AEG are mostly internally funded. There is some European Space Agency (ESA) and German government funding.
AEG is one of three major space tube builders in the world. They are current in their use of technology and have success that results from experience, care, and just doing things well. It is their intention to supply not only TWTs but TWTAs as well in the future.
Multi-stage depressed collectors are used to increase efficiency. Double comb delay lines are used for higher power tubes. Cathode life problem has been solved with mixed metal cathodes "having 500 k hour life." Improved taper designs improve circuit efficiency.