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Next-generation Global Satellite System with Mega-constellations

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A defining moment for the satellite industry is upon us with the launch of NGSO (non-geostationary) constellations, with a plethora of satellite sizes, capabilities and orbital positions, including MEOs, LEOs and SmallSats. Hughes has been a leader in the geostationary (GEO) world for 50 years. But that world is changing – and with these new constellations come new and exciting opportunities.

In the coming years, we will start to see hybrid networks where GEO satellites are complemented by low earth orbit (LEO) and medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites. Such a hybrid architecture will deliver ubiquitous coverage and, likely, a better end-user experience with data classification and multi-transport routing. These mega-constellations and terrestrial components, under a hybrid communications architecture, will enable new services and applications, like 5G, 6G, self-driving cars, smart homes and cities, and even augmented reality.

These are some of the applications our engineers ponder as they develop the technologies, networks and solutions that will power the hybrid networks of the future.  For instance, what factors influence the design of these hybrid mega-constellations? What role will inter-constellation links play in providing highly secure, point-to-point connectivity in scenarios where terrestrial routing must be avoided? What if we consider an end-to-end multilayer protocol architecture to analyze and ensure QoS and mobility? Or explore scalable routing and traffic engineering design based on software-defined networking to handle variability in network topology, differentiated user demands, and traffic transport in both temporal and spatial dimensions.

Hughes president Pradman Kaul touched on some of these possibilities in his keynote address at the recent Satellite Innovation conference.

For a deeper dive, our engineers offer a more technical exploration of a Next-Generation Global Satellite System with Mega-Constellations in this special issue paper, available through the Wiley Online Library.