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The increasing demand for higher data rates, smaller antenna apertures, or less power at the uplink for mobile devices requires air-interface and application specific processing, especially for telecommunication satellites. Only on satellites for dedicated applications or with a short limited lifetime, on-board processing is partly used, but processing on-board improves the system performance or increases the system capacity in several cases. Today's on-board processing for satellite communication is mostly based on ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuit), which have their main drawback in the limited flexibility. In order to demonstrate and validate the flexibility of an FPGA-based on-board processor (OBP) for space applications the Fraunhofer IIS is involved in a so-called in-orbit verification (IOV) payload on the H2Sat (Heinrich Hertz communication satellite) satellite. Potentially, an FPGA platform can be reconfigured for novel communication protocols. In order to investigate new standards for telecommunication satellite systems, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS is developing an OBP platform, based on FPGAs, which will be embedded into the German research satellite H2Sat. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first completely reconfigurable platform based on four leadingedge radiation-hardened FPGAs in the geosynchronous orbit for telecommunication satellites.
Date of Conference: 25-28 June 2012