What a year, 2020! In the satellite industry, it marks a clear shift in satellite data reception, especially in the domain of Earth observation. The DVB-S2 protocol basically stole the show this year, attracting an amazing amount of interest as it promises significantly more efficient use of an already overcrowded RF spectrum. Although DVB-S2 is by no means new, New Space is basically making it the de facto Earth observation payload reception standard, most prominently by Planet, which demonstrated 220 Mb/s transmissions from its cubesats(!) using just a 90 Mhz wide channel. Transmission at anything close to that kind of efficiency (in terms of bit/Hz/s) was unheard of up to relatively recently, and ESA, NASA and other large organisations are taking a serious look at the protocol, too.
The second radical change is that it is now clear that traditional hardware modems on the ground are on their way out as software modems pave the way to the future. While the advantages of software have always been appealing (rapid, cost-effective development, agility, ease of deployment, licensing flexibility - the list just goes on!), for a long time it was hard to imagine that the extreme throughput required by Earth observation satellites could be supported in software. That is, until recently.
We have been busy for quite some time now working on Blink, our software modem, and aggressive performance improvement is a core part of the process, pushing from megabits per second, to tens of Mb/s and then hundreds. This year we've taken both our DVB-S2 support and performance to a whole new level. We have recently broken through the 1 Gb/s barrier and in spectacular fashion, just exceeding 1.2 Gb/s throughput with a 32APSK signal, effectively handling a full 375 MHz X-band channel!
Blink has already been by far the fastest software modem in the world: the recent performance breakthrough certainly cements that position. And having a software modem supporting CCSDS and DVB-S2 protocols, working at gigabit+ speeds, deployable in a rack at the ground station or in a cloud basically changes the game with regard to satellite payload acquisition in so many ways that it's difficult to list them.
We wish you a really good 2021! It is certainly going to be exciting around Blink!