European Space Agency

Flexible RF/IF Down-Converter for Flexible Payload


The vast majority of C- , Ku- & Ka-band telecommunications satellites currently in orbit are based on conventional payload architecture associating the generation of fixed wide coverage, fixed frequency plans, channelized amplification with IMUX/OMUX and dedicated HPA per channel.

Enhancing capacity and flexibility is one of the major challenges for new-generation C- , Ku -band payloads. In the frame of FLIP program (Flexible Innovative Payload) supported by CNES, THALES ALENIA SPACE studied different payload architectures to cope with these objectives. One of the main axis is the introduction of flexibility within conventional payload with the qualification of DTP flexible frequency converters.

This product is mandatory to allow THALES ALENIA SPACE to complete its strategy for the development of flexible payloads. It will offer competitive solutions with the performance currently requested by Customers. The procured advantage is primordial for the incoming generation of flexible payloads ; it will set TAS as a serious competitor in the realization of flexible payloads and satellites.


RF section is based on a dedicated macro-hybrid package hosting IF filter function, and  new MMIC chipset dedicated to RF/IF & IF/RF frequency plan for both C- & Ku-band.

LO section is based on a N-fractional ASIC locked onto an external or internal LO reference.

DCDC section and specific TMTC section are CMS placed on PCB and no particular issue is expected, as the new critical parts, TMTC manager ASIC and associated EEPROM, have been validated in Ku flexible Down-converter.

In order to improve manufacturing efficiency, unit assembly is based on solderless connectors use. Unit operation is qualified with 3 different solderless connectors, showing no critical behaviour for Telecom applications within qualification test sequence.


To present a product dedicated to flexible payloads, easily adaptable for different frequency bands.

To develop a competitive product thanks to the flexibility of gain and frequency. 


THALES ALENIA SPACE proposes here to develop RF/IF a stand-alone Flexible Down- Converter dedicated to new flexible payloads.

The development effort is focused on the  main parts of the converter :

  • RF section design to host IF filter for down-conversion ;
  • LO section with a N-fractional ASIC allowing to provide a larger spectrum of frequencies with a very small step. This equipment can use an internal or external LO reference.
  • The DC/DC section is also modified to cope with the new RF section and Local oscillator.. Cost and mass have also been improved ;
  • a TMTC section has been introduced to manage the LO frequency and gain flexibility.

The flexible RF/IF converter unit is thus made of a  RF macro-hybrid device, and a hybrid LO locked on internal or external reference, such as TMTC & DCDC sections.

Flexible RF/IF Down-converter mechanical design


First, EM activities were focused on critical sections of the design (RF macrohybrid), as the Local oscillator hybrid EM has been supported by the development of the Ku flexible down-converter

Then, EQM activities were dedicated to qualification of the unit :

  • Manufacturing and test of CTA of C/IF flexible macro-hybrid device
  • Manufacturing and qualification sequence of C/IF converter EQM
  • Final Review to validate the unit qualification

Current status

All key reviews (PDR, CDR, TRR, TRB) have been held successfully.

The Flexible Converter EQM has been fully tested and qualified with expected performances and under multi-platform environmental conditions.

Status date

Monday, February 22, 2016 - 08:27