Distributed Ground Station Network for CubeSat Communications


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Virginia Tech


In the last decade the world has seen a steadily increasing number of Cube Satellites deployed to Low Earth Orbit. Traditionally, these cubesats rely on Amateur Radio communications technology that are proven to work from space. However, as data volumes increase, the existing Amateur Radio protocols, combined with the restrictions of use for the Amateur Radio Spectrum, as well as the trend to build one control station per cubesat, result in a bottle neck effect whereby existing communications methods are no longer sufficient to support the increasing data volumes of the spacecraft.

This Masters Thesis work explores the concept of deploying a network of distributed ground station receiver nodes for the purposes of increasing access time to the spacecraft, and thereby increasing the potential amount of data that can be transferred from orbit to the ground. The current trends in cubesat communications will be analyzed and an argument will be made in favor of transitioning to more modern digital communications approaches for on orbit missions. Finally, a candidate ground station receiver node design is presented a possible design that could be used to deploy such a network.



Cubesat, Software radio, Ground Station, Distributed Network