Challenges of Satellite Communications
Power: A fundamental limitation of all space activities where more power traditionally equals more data, but it’s hard to produce, hard to store, and hard to manage.
Pointing: Getting the data to the right place on the ground. Directional radio beams yield more data, but turning the satellite or antenna is complex and costly.
Mass: Every kilogram placed in orbit is precious. Large antennas provide more data, but traditional deployable antennas are heavy and complex.
Current solutions include simple “omnidirectional” antennas for small spacecraft that are low power and mass but have very low data rates. Directional parabolic antennas are also used but require precise pointing and complex deployments. Advanced phased array “beamforming” antennas have wider coverage and steerable but high power, complex, and costly.