For the last year, SES has been talking about improving the satellite user experience and greatly increasing automation – making it more accessible and intuitive to utilise satellite communications. This initiative involves working with Kythera Space Solutions, a provider of dynamic management systems for next generation satellite payloads and networks, to develop a software solution that interacts across the space and ground network ecosystem. SES will apply the Adaptive Resource Control (ARC) to the digitised payloads used on both O3b mPOWER, the next-generation Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellite system, and the SES-17 Geostationary High-Throughput Satellite (HTS). The Chief Operating Officer of Kythera Space Solutions, Andy Musliner, explains more.
In September 2019, SES and Kythera announced ARC, now in full development. What will this system do that is so unique?
SES is leading the pack, bringing the satellite-based data communications industry into the future. Its upcoming satellites with onboard digital processors will be enabling the unprecedented ability to adjust power and spectrum, and manipulate beam quantity, shape and size dynamically utilising real-time data and automation.
ARC manages the complete map of services provisioned by the O3b mPOWERMEO constellation and the SES-17 HTS GEO satellite. As new service requests come in and as operational conditions change, ARC will adapt on-the-fly, dynamically and autonomously optimising space and ground resources to meet the changing needs of SES’s customers. ARC enables SES to harness capabilities inherent to the satellite’s design and more broadly realise the potential of a high-performance dynamic space network.
ARC is the industry’s first autonomous, dynamic, resilient, integrated space network management system.
Can you give us a status update on ARC?
Today, ARC development is well underway and on schedule. We are beginning integration testing with many of the interfacing systems and are on track for the initial operational system release in time for the launch of SES-17 and O3b mPOWER satellites in 2021. We’re very excited about this!
Can you tell our readers a little bit about Kythera Space Solutions? What does the company do in the satellite marketplace?
Kythera Space Solutions was born out of the satellite industry’s rapidly emerging need to manage a new generation of sophisticated, flexible digital communications satellites. For the last decade or so, Kythera has effectively been in “stealth mode” working on this as an advanced research and custom products division of RKF Engineering, and in 2018 spun off from RKF to tackle the challenge of reinventing satellite communication networks. Today, Kythera is leading the industry in dynamic satellite and space network resource management and optimisation solutions, enabling our customers to get the most out of their advanced communication satellites.
What does your joint development of ARC mean for SES? What benefits will SES’s customers see from it?
ARC works in concert with other space and ground components, serving as the brain for the space network: it manages and optimises satellite and broader constellation resources to provide the most reliable satellite service possible. The system considers all users’ service needs, all physical and operational constraints on the satellite and the ground components, and myriad other factors to determine how satellites and ground components should be flexibly configured.
End users will ultimately benefit from SES’s ability to deliver products and solutions that meet their unique needs for flexibility and performance. ARC enables the visibility and enforcement of service level agreements as well as control of assigned pools of bandwidth capacity that can be allocated across many locations. ARC also works with SES’s SD-WAN solution to support multi-orbit data path alternatives to ensure resiliency in all situations no matter if on the ground or in the sky. SES’s customers will enjoy a network that adjusts automatically to short-notice changes in demand driven by unexpected events.
SES will use ARC in O3b mPOWER to define how power and spectrum should be allocated and how beams should be formed to serve its customers. ARC helps SES orchestrate all the components of customer-centric products and solutions, from the satellites to ground components.
Ultimately, ARC is the first system that combines all these concepts to enable an integrated, autonomously operating, dynamic space and ground network. What used to take days or weeks, with ARC will take minutes!
Is ARC’s focus on MEO?
No. As mentioned before, ARC is also supporting the SES-17 GEO satellite. In fact, the ARC system is orbit- and satellite-agnostic, so it can reasonably support GEO or Non-geostationary (NGSO) satellites, and is a future-proof development. At an industry level, ARC is proving out de facto standards SES and Kythera are developing that define how a dynamic space network can integrate with the terrestrial network for seamless connectivity. ARC will revolutionise key markets such as mobility, telecom, enterprise, and government.