Site: Alcatel Espace
26, Avenue, J. F.-Champollion
B. P. 1187
31037 Toulouse Cedex
Date Visited: June 26, 1992
Report Author: E. Miller
Alcatel Espace makes up 7.4% of Alcatel Alshom, a $2.8 billion, 200,000 person organization. Twelve percent of Alcatel Alshom is Radio Space Defense and in turn, 11% of that is Space-Civilian, which has an annual budget of about 350 million ECU and employs about 2,000 persons. The Space Division of Alcatel is comprised of eight companies, one of which is Alcatel Espace with a variable work force of 1,300/2,000 employees, and 300 million FFr. annual funding. Alcatel was privatized in 1987 and is no longer 100% government owned.
A new "world team," an "alliance," has been formed to pursue aerospace contracts. The alliance consists of the Space Division of Alcatel, Loral, Alenia, Aerospatiale, and (soon) Dutch Aerospace. There are about 8,000 employees in the alliance.
Principal space communications work areas include equipment manufacturing, payloads, and system/satellite prime contracting. Recent outputs were:
Study goals were to identify new missions and/or services. In the fixed satellite services (FSS), these include VSATs, ISDN, broadband, and high definition TV (HDTV). In mobile satellite services (MSS), this covers terrestrial mobile, sound broadcasting, and localization/messaging. Data relay satellites and services would include intersatellite links (ISLs).
Continuous improvement of products is targeted. New products include monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs), active antennas and 30/20 GHz equipment.
Communications systems areas of interest include, in the FSS, broadband interconnect, HDTV, and on-board processing (OBP). For BSS, a joint study with CNES concluded that Sound BSS from geostationary earth orbit (GEO) will not be economical. Study of HDTV BSS using EUROPESAT has just been initiated.
Extensive development work as well as finished products were shown. Reflector systems included C-, X-, and Ku-band multifeed antennas; a Eurobeam dual-gridded shaped reflector antenna; and a Ka-band beam waveguide antenna using six reflectors that can scan plus/minus 155 degrees. Active arrays displayed included a deployable L-band array of 30 elements, using 30 W solid state power amplifiers (SSPAs) with a maximum power of 450 W for the entire array. It is electronically reconfigurable. Other active arrays shown were a C-band multifeed array, an S-band patch element transmit array, an X-band nulling antenna, an X-band scanning radar antenna with 6,000 active elements, a 64 element dual polarized array built around a MMIC beam-forming network (BFN), and 1 W MESFET MMICs from Thomson. No Ka-band arrays were shown.
Microwave equipment displayed included receivers, a MMIC channel amplifier whose design focussed on size and mass reduction (flight model to be ready in 1993), tracking, telemetry and command (TT&C) receivers and transmitters, and a 20 GHz high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) low noise amplifier (LNA) with 27 dB gain and a 3 dB noise figure (NF).
OBP equipment reviewed consisted of programmable digital filters, a 16 bit fast Fourier transform module with a 1 MHz throughput, four application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) fabricated in CMOS-SOS (silicon on sapphire) using 1.25 micrometer/gate/MHz technology, and a seven channel demodulator (demod) for MF-TDMA input.
There are 20 different designs developed, with 1,100 to 8,000 gates on each ASIC, fabricated at six separate foundries. Among the key ASIC technologies and products are demods, filter banks, CMOS ASICs, digital signal processors (DSPs), and ASIC mounting technology.
Alcatel is working on a broad front in satellite communications. They perform system studies to determine new missions and services. Their work in active array antennas is state-of-the-art, covering a wide range of frequencies, up to Ku-band, but no work was shown at Ka-band. MMICs are being used for channel amplifiers at Ka-band. HEMT amplifiers at 20 GHz have been developed. In on-board processing, multiple channel demods have been developed with supporting ASICs to complete the design.