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Payload Performance of TDRS KL and Future ServicesNASA has accepted two of the 3nd generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellites, TDRS K, L, and M, designed and built by Boeing Defense, Space Security (DSS). TDRS K, L, and M provide S-band Multiple Access (MA) service and S-band, Ku-band and Ka-band Single Access (SA) services to near Earth orbiting satellites. The TDRS KLM satellites offer improved services relative to the 1st generation TDRS spacecraft, such as: an enhanced MA service featuring increased EIRPs and GT; and Ka-band SA capability which provides a 225 and 650 MHz return service (customer-to-TDRS direction) bandwidth and a 50 MHz forward service (TDRS-to-customer direction) bandwidth. MA services are provided through a 15 element forward phased array that forms up to two beams with onboard active beamforming and a 32 element return phased array supported by ground-based beamforming. SA services are provided through two 4.6m tri-band reflector antennas which support program track pointing and autotrack pointing. Prior to NASAs acceptance of the satellites, payload on-orbit testing was performed on each satellite to determine on-orbit compliance with design requirements. Performance parameters evaluated include: EIRP, GT, antenna gain patterns, SA antenna autotrack performance, and radiometric tracking performance. On-orbit antenna calibration and pointing optimization was also performed on the MA and SA antennas including 24 hour duration tests to characterize and calibrate out diurnal effects. Bit-Error-Rate (BER) tests were performed to evaluate the end-to-end link BER performance of service through a TDRS K and L spacecraft. The TDRS M is planned to be launched in August 2017. This paper summarizes the results of the TDRS KL communications payload on-orbit performance verification and end-to-end service characterization and compares the results with the performance of the 2nd generation TDRS J. The paper also provides a high-level overview of an optical communications application that will augment the data rates supported by the Space Network.
Document ID
Document Type
Toral, Marco A.
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Heckler, Gregory W.
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Pogorelc, Patricia M.
(Exelis, Inc. Greenbelt, MD, United States)
George, Nicholas E.
(Exelis, Inc. Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Han, Katherine S.
(ASRC Federal Space and Defense Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
October 19, 2017
Publication Date
October 16, 2017
Subject Category
Communications And Radar
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Ka and Broadband Communications Conference(Trieste)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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