There is some really interesting stuff going with antenna designs - merging optics with conventional RF technology.
"Technically, the antenna transmission draws upon a first-of-its-kind beam-forming optical lens engineered to send precise beams to several differently placed satellites at the same time, without using the entire circuitry of the system. While phased array antennas continue to be highly effective and widely operational, Billman explained that the new multi-beam antenna is quite different in that it can sustain its power and signal fidelity across multiple bands at the same time. Phased array antennas, Billman said, not only rely upon a wider aperture which consumes more of the circuitry and electrical power, but decrease in power and effectiveness when broken into two beams simultaneously. Whereas the optical lenses, designed to empower the single antenna functionality, do not need to all operate at the same time. Several different beam transmissions can connect with several satellites at once; the patented beam-forming system can connect satellites of different sizes, operating at various altitudes within different orbits. Phased arrays also, by contrast, require a larger form factor which consumes more real estate, and electrical power, on a surface ship. Also, when it comes to warfare operational resiliency, several more narrowly configured, yet dispersed, electronic signals emit a lower and less detectable signature than larger, phased array emissions."
You can read the compete articles here. 1st LINK And more info here 2nd LINK
The Navy is already testing some of these new antennas for combat ships that will allow simultaneous multiple links over multiple bands on mulitple satellites. And these optical antennas are supposed to me much more stealthy than the current large multiple phased arrays currently used for onboard satellite communications. Wonder if this tech can give a rebirth to AMSAT? Radio keeps evolving!
Rick - N7WE
070 - #1602