[BLT Insight]Low-Orbit Satellite Communication Systems in South Korea

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Low-Orbit Satellite Communication Systems in South Korea

37% of the world's regions, 2.9 billion people, are unable to use the internet. Existing communication systems provide communication services through submarine cables and base stations installed in high-altitude areas. Such existing communication infrastructures require a high cost for installation and maintenance, so underdeveloped countries cannot provide these communication services. This creates so-called communication blind spots. To solve these communication blind spots, a low-earth orbit satellite communication system is proposed.  

[Image] Overview of existing submarine cable-based communication system and low-earth orbit satellite communication system


A low-earth orbit satellite communication system is a communication system that provides communication by deploying communication satellites in the range of 200km to 2,000km above the ground. Compared to medium and high-altitude satellites, low-earth orbit satellites have the advantage of shorter transmission and reception times due to closer proximity to the ground, and it is easier to launch communication satellites at a lower altitude. With these strengths, it is being actively installed as a satellite communication platform. In 2022, 14,710 satellites were launched into low-earth orbit, a significant increase from only 872 in 2008. This trend is expected to rapidly expand to 46,100 satellites within the next few years. Thus, the low-earth orbit satellite communication system is ushering in a new era in the communication industry.


[Image] Annual launch status of low-earth orbit communication satellites and the representative low-earth orbit satellite communication system 'Starlink'


Domestic companies are also actively advancing into this field. Incelrasolution Co., Ltd. (CEO Kwon Young-gwan), a domestic low-earth orbit satellite communication company, has successfully attracted investment (Seed, 3 billion won) due to its recognized technological capabilities. Incelrasolution Co., Ltd. develops devices that can provide optical communication for low-earth orbit satellites through its fast steering mirror (FSM) manufacturing technology. Incelrasolution Co., Ltd. has demonstrated its technological capabilities by completing the prototype production of an FSM that meets the high shock resistance requirements. Incelrasolution Co., Ltd. plans to conduct performance tests for its fast steering mirror based on this investment and advance into the domestic satellite and defense markets.


[Image] Antenna of low-earth orbit satellite and structure of fast steering mirror (FSM)


Technology development related to low-earth orbit satellite communication is also active among domestic companies. GTL Co., Ltd., a company developing antennas for domestic low-earth orbit satellite communication, has developed a technology that allows the antenna to track the optimal satellite signal based on the average value of the received signal within the low-earth orbit communication network. This technology can prevent power consumption by suppressing the satellite antenna's operation, thereby extending the satellite's operational life. Soltop Co., Ltd. and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute have developed a technology that can quickly detect and store FSMs by simultaneously comparing four phase-shifted frames. This technology can minimize data loss during transmission and reception, solving the problems of existing satellite communication. Thus, technology development to expand low-earth orbit satellite communication is active.


[Image] GTL Co., Ltd.'s low-earth orbit satellite tracking antenna and Soltop Co., Ltd.'s satellite control system applied to the Cheollian Satellite 2B (GK2B)


The BLT Research Center predicts, "The low-earth orbit satellite communication market is expected to experience dramatic growth. These technological changes will present new opportunities for companies to develop related technologies." They added, "Securing rights to various application technologies for low-earth orbit satellite communication solutions is expected to be a good strategy."


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