European Space Agency

RF/IF Down-Converter & IF/RF Up-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-& Ka-band payloads. One of the main axis is the introduction of flexibility within conventional payload with the qualification of DTP I/O DUAL RF/IF & IF/RF 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 THALES ALENIA SPACE as a serious competitor in the realization of flexible payloads and satellites.


The development will strengthen the competitive position for THALES ALENIA SPACE with respect to new flexible payload market.

The product portfolio will be filled out with a solution for RF/IF & IF/RF conversion with reduced footprint and mass thanks to DUAL approach.


THALES ALENIA SPACE proposes to develop a DUAL RF/IF & IF/RF Converter dedicated to new flexible payloads. 

The development effort is focused on the 3 main parts of the DUAL converter :

  • RF section design to host IF filter for both up- & down-conversion ;
  • LO section with a fractional VCXO to provide a larger spectrum of frequencies than already existing integer VCXO loop ;
  • DC/DC section derived from DUAL Ka-band DCDC board with dedicated TMTC management for each RF chain 

The DUAL RF/IF & IF/RF Converter unit will then be based on a 2 RF macro-hybrid devices, gathered with LO section locked on external reference, TMTC & DCDC sections. 

Same macro-hybrid housing is used for RF/IF down-converter or IF/RF up-converter. The RF port is always on the top of the macro-hybrid device. It will be the input connector for a RF/IF down-converter application, and the output connector for an IF/RF up-converter application. Mechanical design is described below.

DUAL RF/IF & IF/RF  mechanical design

System Architecture

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- & Ka-band. 

LO section is based on a fractional VCXO loop locked on an external reference. EM board enabled to validate the design and achieve expected phase noise performance. 

DCDC section with TMTC management of each RF chain. 


First, EM activities were focused on critical sections of the design: 

  • EM of both up- and down-converter RF sections
  • EM of VCXO fractional board 

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

  • Manufacturing and qualification sequence of DUAL converter EQM
  • Final Review to validate the unit qualification

Current status

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

The DUAL RF/IF & IF/RF Converter has been fully tested and qualified with expected performances and under multi-platform environmental conditions.

Status date

Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 11:37