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Navigating the Stars with Winchester’s RF Expertise

RF Space Satellite Application Image

Customer Challenge

In 2018, the U.S. military embarked on a mission to upgrade its Space Defense Operations Center (SPADOC) by introducing the Advanced Tracking and Launch Analysis System (ATLAS). This initiative aimed to replace outdated infrastructure and equip the Air Force with advanced capabilities to address the evolving challenges in space operations, including managing commercial constellations, mitigating debris, countering anti-satellite tests, and confronting adversarial threats.

Winchester Interconnect, a leading provider of high-frequency RF technologies, was engaged by the customer to develop applications tailored to the new architecture of ATLAS. The primary objective was to enable ATLAS to scale efficiently while maintaining optimal performance under extreme conditions such as vibration, temperature variations, and high-power RF environments.

Challenge Review

One of the critical challenges Winchester faced was designing connectors capable of addressing multi-paction—an essential requirement for the success of the ATLAS project.

Specifically, Winchester was tasked with providing TNC and SMA connectors that could withstand the rigors of deep space missions, including extreme temperatures and vibrations.

To ensure optimal RF performance and reliability, Winchester utilized wedge TNC and Fluoroloy® insulators and selected high-frequency RF products, including 1mm, 2.4mm, and 2.9mm connectors, as well as SMA and Centurion Assemblies, designed to operate within the DC – 110 GHz frequency range. These components were specifically chosen for their ability to maintain performance integrity from launch to landing, particularly in Ka band and Ku band uplink and download frequencies.

Additionally, Winchester leveraged its expertise in high-power RF technologies to provide connectors and cable assemblies capable of handling power outputs ranging from 0 to 50 KW, catering to the unique demands of deep space missions.

Winchester Solution

Drawing upon its engineering prowess and in-depth understanding of RF technologies, Winchester’s engineering team devised innovative solutions to meet the customer’s unique challenges effectively. By combining the wedge interface with a vented interface, Winchester developed adapters that not only addressed critical electrical concerns but also delivered a reliable mechanical design that exceeded the customer’s expectations.

The final solution provided by Winchester demonstrated outstanding performance and resilience, ensuring seamless integration into the ATLAS architecture. Winchester’s adapters not only met the stringent requirements for RF performance but also withstood the harsh environmental conditions encountered during space missions.

Customer Improvement

The U.S. military and its partners were highly satisfied with Winchester’s contributions to the ATLAS project. The successful implementation of Winchester’s solutions underscores the company’s commitment to innovation, reliability, and excellence in serving the needs of customers in the aerospace and defense sectors.

Scheduled to be complete in 2024, Winchester’s collaboration with the military on the ATLAS project exemplifies its ability to deliver cutting-edge solutions tailored to the most demanding requirements of space exploration and defense applications. Through its expertise in RF technologies and engineering ingenuity, Winchester continues to play a vital role in advancing the capabilities and resilience of critical infrastructure in space operations.