Skip to Main Content
In the 2008 IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society International Microwave Symposium Digest version of our paper, recent advances in high power and efficiency space traveling-wave tube amplifiers for NASA's space-to-Earth communications are presented. The RF power and efficiency of a new K-band amplifier are 40 W and 50% and that of a new K-band amplifier are 200 W and 60%. An important figure-of-merit, which is defined as the ratio of the RF power output to the mass (W/kg) of a traveling-wave tube (TWT), has improved by a factor of 10 over the previous generation Ka-band devices. In this paper, a high power high efficiency Ka -band combiner for multiple TWTs, based on a novel hybrid magic-T waveguide circuit design, is presented. The measured combiner efficiency is as high as 90%. In addition, at the design frequency of 32.05 GHz, error-free uncoded binary phase-shift keying/quadrature phase-shift keying (QPSK) data transmission at 8 Mb/s, which is typical for deep-space communications, is demonstrated. Furthermore, QPSK data transmission at 622 Mb/s is demonstrated with a low bit error rate of 2.4 times10-8, which exceeds the deep-space state-of-the-art data rate transmission capability by more than two orders of magnitude. A potential application of the TWT combiner is in deep-space communication systems for planetary exploration requiring transmitter power on the order of a kilowatt or higher.