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Technical Aspects of Satellite Communications Training Course

Satellite communications play a vital role in the global telecommunications system. Approximately 2,000 artificial satellites orbiting Earth relay analog and digital signals carrying voice, video, and data to and from one or many locations worldwide.

The main components of a satellite consist of three areas:

  1. The communications system, which includes the antennas and transponders that receive and retransmit signals
  2. The power system, which includes the solar panels that provide power
  3. The propulsion system, which includes the rockets that propel the satellite

Satellites operate in extreme temperatures from −150 °C (−238 °F) to 150 °C (300 °F) and may be bombarded by radiation in space. Consequently, satellite components exposed to radiation need to be shielded with aluminum and other radiation-resistant material.

A satellite’s thermal system on the other hand protects its sensitive electronic and mechanical components and maintains it in its optimum functioning temperature to ensure its continuous operation. Additionally, a satellite’s thermal system also protects sensitive satellite components from the extreme changes in temperature by activation of cooling mechanisms when it gets too hot or heating systems when it gets too cold.

Another key system is the tracking telemetry and control (TT&C ) system. This is a two-way communication link between the satellite and TT&C on the ground. This allows a ground station to track a satellite’s position and control the satellite’s propulsion, thermal and other systems. It can also monitor the temperature, electrical voltages and other important parameters of a satellite.

In order to get itself to the right orbital location, a satellite requires its own propulsion system. A satellite in geostationary orbit can deviate up to a degree every year from north to south or east to west of its location because of the gravitational pull of the moon and sun.

In order to make slight adjustments in its position, a satellite has thrusters that are fired occasionally. The maintenance of a satellite’s orbital position is called “station keeping,” and the corrections made by using the satellite’s thrusters are called “attitude control.”

A satellite’s life span is determined by the amount of fuel it has to power these thrusters. Once the fuel runs out, the satellite eventually drifts into space and out of operation, becoming space debris.

Courses by Tonex

Technical Aspects of Satellite Communications course is designed to provide a general technical overview of Satellite Communications and SATCOM technologies for non-technical professionals including sales, marketing, product managers, finance,  project and program managers, and executive management.

Like all Tonex courses, Technical Aspects of Satellite Communications is taught by world class instructors with real world experience as well as very specific specialized knowledge in their fields.

Need to tailor this course or one of our many other SATCOM courses? We can do that. Just let us know how we can help.

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.


Course Objectives

  • General understanding satellite communications theory at a technician level
  • General understanding of Satellite communications
  •  Compare satellite, wireless, wired, and fiber communications and their preferred applications
  • Describe spacecraft physical size, payloads, transponders, antennas, lifetime
  • Describe typical launch vehicles; Compare LEO, MEO, GEO and HEO orbits
  • List the frequencies bands used for satellite communications
  • Describe the concepts of links, link budgets, and how they are affected by dish size
  • Define qualitatively EIRP, G/T, footprints, and contours
  • Describe the main properties of microwaves and how signals are affected by blockage
  • Define rain fade loss, rain zones, availability
  • Explain solar outages
  • Describe the high-level operation of a satellite transponder.
  • Compare the main types of antennas used for earth stations.
  • Define amplitude, frequency, decibels, gain, EIRP, spectrum, symbol rate, bandwidth, noise, power, C/N, and Eb/No
  • Define modulation and demodulation
  • Describe and compare BPSK, QPSK, and 8PSK
  • Define and describe SCPC, TDM, TDMA, MF-TDMA, DVB, DVB-RCS, star, and mesh networks
  • Describe the functions of a LAN, Ethernet, IP address, subnet, gateway/router address, DNS, DHCP, NAT

Session overview / plans and delivery methods

  • Pre-Assessment
  • Lectures
  • Case Studies
  • Post-Assessments

Course Outline

Satellite Communications Overview

  • Common types of satellites
  • Comparing satellites
  • Orbits
  • Orbit types: GEO, LEO, MEO, HEO
  • Space Segment
  • Laws of satellite motion
  • Basic Components
  • Spacecraft, transponders, and launch vehicles.
  • Transmitters
  • Transponder
  • Antennas
  • Power Generation
  • Payload
  • Propulsion
  • Launch vehicles
  • Spectrum
  • Bands
  • Channels
  • Carriers
  • Channelization
  • Satellite Access Techniques

Technical Overview of Common Satellite communications Terminology

  • EIRP, G/T, contours, and their relationships to dish size
  • Gains, losses, and levels
  • Fundamentals of dB and level calculations
  • Signals, noise, and spectrums
  • Antennas, including side lobes, patterns, and gain
  • Propagation, including rain fade, blockage, snow/ice effects
  • Satellite links, with breakdown of how a link budget concepts, link margins, and availability.
  • Polarization
  • Earth station and equipments
  • Multiple Access Techniques
  • Access methods
  • Propagation Interference and Regulation
  • Payload Engineering
  • Spacecraft Engineering and Operations
  • Earth Station Engineering
  • Modems
  • Modulation and coding
  • Amplitude modulation
  • Frequency modulation
  • Phase modulation
  • Chanel coding and decoding
  • Footprints
  • Link budget
  • Link margin
  • Payload
  • Gateway
  • NOC
  • SOC
  • Horizontal and geographic satellite coordinates and look angles
  • Trajectories

Basic Transmission Principles

  • Satellite architecture and subsystems
  • Baseband signals
  • Analog transmission
  • Digital transmission
  • Key parameters: EIRP G/T, SFD, Input/Output
  • Backoff, C/No, Eb/No
  • Typical link budget, link margin and availability
  • Modulation systems (QPSK, OQPSK, MSK, 8PSK, and 16 QAM)
  • Basic aperture antenna definitions and relationships
  • Typical antenna configurations for satellite communications
  • Propagation and Interference
  • Radio noise
  • Interference between satellite networks
  • Interference with terrestrial networks

Network Architectures

  • Traffic multiplexing
  • Multiple access, and assignments strategies
  • Satellite Engineering for Communications Satellites

Properties of Bands

  • Availability
  • Current and projected Applications
  • UT/Terminal
  • Design process and suitability for manufacturing
  • Manufacturing process
  • Next generation technologies
  • Platforms for Terminal (Chips, OS, MMI, etc)
  • Transmission (coding, modulations, etc)

Ground Segment

  • Types of earth stations
  • Architecture of earth station
  • Design considerations
  • Earth station hardware
  • Antennas


  • IF and Baseband equipment
  • Terrestrial interface
  • Satellite tracking

Overview of GSM, GPRS, UMTS, LTE and 5G Technologies

  • Different components of a GSM family of systems and what each does
  • Evolution from GSM to 5G

User terminals

  • General UT design – different subsystems and components
  • Types of antennas and design
  • Capabilities and limitations
  • Product development process

Satellite Link Design Fundamentals

  • Transmission equation
  • Satellite link parameters
  • Frequency considerations
  • Propagation considerations
  • Techniques to counter propagation effects
  • Noise considerations
  • Interference related problems
  • Link design – procedure and link budget

Case Study: Basic Overview of GMR-1

  • GMR-1: The basic circuit switched model
  • GmPRS: Adding support for packet data
  • Mobile broadband and internet protocols
  • Over view of SGSN, GGSN
  • Basic concepts behind  Ethernet, IP address, subnet, gateway/router address, DNS, DHCP, and NAT
  • GMR-1 3G
  • 3G Definitions by ITU-T and IMT-2000
  • Overview of CDMA, WCDMA and UMTS
  • GEO-Mobile Radio Interface
  • Terminal-to-Terminal Call (TtT)

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