Date Visited: September 10, 1997
WTEC: N. Helm (report author), C. Bostian
Bosch Telecom (formerly the space telecom group was called Bosch ANT) is part of the privately owned Robert Bosch company. The Bosch Group's worldwide sales are nearly 60% in automotive equipment and its Telecom and Telecom Space divisions make up about 13% of overall sales. The Space Communications Systems Product Group of Bosch Telecom has about 550 employees, sales of over $130 million with ~20% annual growth rates. It is noteworthy that for more than five years, the Space Communications Product Group has reinvested more than 15% of profits in its R&D program.
Since 1970 Bosch Telecom has supplied high quality space qualified components to more than 60 spacecraft including international, domestic, regional, experimental and mobile communications, broadcast, environmental and meteorological spacecraft.
Building from a broad history of Ka-band activities going back to the DFS Kopernikus project started in 1983, Bosch Telecom has conducted research on Ka-band transponders for DRS, ESA, ARTEMIS and BMVG. This research resulted in a Ka-band TWTA for the ARTEMIS spacecraft with a power output of 35 W and a power supply with an an efficiency of 91%. Current research in the Ka-band subsystems includes work on a multi-channel repeater for future multimedia applications. On the transmit side, Bosch is working on a 20 GHz transmit section that includes modulators, producing up to 30 W (TWTA) per channel.
Bosch Telecom's proficiency in switching technologies comes in part from the terrestrial telecom activities at high data rates. Current OBP research includes work on a T-stage circuit switch for ESA. Also, the company has finished bench testing of an experimental ATM-like cell switch for a possible future military payload. Research on the cell switch includes a test environment that allows for changes in data rates from 2.4 kbps to 7 Mbps, generation of different traffic profiles and bit error rates, propagation delays for GEO services, and standardized interfaces with real applications.
Research and component development is taking place on HTSL technologies for satellite communications. An example of this development is a high temperature superconductive three channel multiplexer at 6 GHz, with a 7-pole input filter (B=500 MHz) and a 5-pole channel filter (B =50 MHz).
Developments for ISL terminals are taking place at both microwave and optical frequencies. An example of the developments includes communications subsystem and electronics components provided for the ARTEMIS/SILEX ISL experiment at 23/27 GHz. Also, Bosch is working with Contraves on laser communications terminals.
Bosch Telecom has a full array of test facilities including a satellite system and sub-system integration building with clean rooms, vibration tables and thermal vacuum chambers.
An impressive R&D philosophy is evident wherein efforts to improve products are conducted in small, staged steps, resulting in well-defined improvements in the product lines. This method of development results in high reliability and low training requirements and produces a high quality line of complementary products.
Bosch Telecom provides high quality space components, especially its electrical power conditioning units (EPCOs) that are unchallenged, with more than 1500 EPC0s in space meeting their qualifications. However, the competition to provide lower cost space qualified components is growing and new companies entering the business are keeping pressure on the marketplace. There is some concern that, as the numbers of satellites increase, there may be a market drift to lower levels of qualification for components. Bosch Telecom has decided to largely leave the ground terminal market and concentrate on its space expertise.