In 2008, Augustus was asked to build the communications payload for the U.S. Army’s SMDC-ONE CubeSat. This nanosatellite was launched on the first operational SpaceX Falcon 9 booster in December of 2010 and was used successfully by the Army as a UHF unattended ground sensor (UGS) relay. It was the first satellite built by the Army since 1958 when space became the domain of the U.S. Air Force and NASA. The small satellite program at SMDC continues and Augustus provided successively more advanced payloads for CubeSats launched in September 2012, December 2013 and September, 2015. Our latest communications payload is a software-defined radio capable of receiving and transmitting numerous MIL-STD 188-181B waveforms. In all, ten of our payloads have been deployed successfully on four different launches for the U.S. Army.
Our success with Army small satellites caught the attention of other U.S. Government agencies and we are now delivering advanced software defined radio (SDR) payloads serving Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) functions and mission data communications on four different Government projects.
Our newest generation of fully-custom digital radio transceivers employ powerful Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) to collect, sample, and process wideband signals at frequencies from below 150 MHz to 2.5 GHz. Precision timing and frequency sources are used to support non-cooperative geolocation, and we have developed high data rate mission data transmitters in S-band and X-band supporting reliable communications in excess of 200 Mbps. Our transceiver products have been developed as mission-specific hardware and software designs in close cooperation with our government customers, bus providers, and development partners, enabling successful bus integration and mission performance in the demanding SWaP, cost, and schedule constraints of small space.
High Altitude Payloads
Many of our receivers have been deployed on high altitude (> 80,000′) free-floating balloons in the near space environment and are used to geolocate ground emitters. Sub-band tuning, signal detection, digital sampling and relay to the ground are all functions performed by the receiver system.
The term pseudolite normally refers to a transceiver that emulates a GPS satellite by providing a precise timing signal and navigation message to augment GPS coverage in areas where the GPS signal is weak or jammed by hostile forces. Pseudolites are normally ground-based and their strong signal and proximity to friendly receivers helps overcome jamming. In theory, airborne and low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite pseudolites can cover larger areas, serve more users and are less vulnerable to most types of enemy attack. Partnered with other defense contractors, Augustus has developed a LEO-based demonstration pseudolite that will launch in 2019.
Passive Bistatic Radar
Augustus also invented a low cost passive bistatic radar exploiting Sirius and XM Satellite transmitters in the 2.3 GHz band. This bistatic radar, called Talon LOTUS, was sponsored by the U.S. Air Force. Bistatic geometries can be favorable for illuminating the broadside or rear of stealthy targets, thereby seeing a larger radar cross section and creating a greater probability of detection.
Augustus excels at providing small innovative payloads on demanding schedules.
NROL-39 Launch from Vandenburg Air Force Base, California on December 5, 2013. This Atlas V launch included 12 CubeSats as secondary payloads. Four of these CubeSats were constructed by General Atomics and Augustus for the U.S. Army.