OneWeb is using drones from Danish startup QuadSat to accelerate ground segment tests as it aims to bring part of its low Earth orbit broadband constellation online this year.
QuadSat’s quadcopters helped calibrate OneWeb’s gateway in Scanzano, Italy, and will now test its antennas elsewhere as the operator races to launch initial commercial services in the upper part of the Northern Hemisphere, ahead of full services in 2022.
The drones simulate the satellites that gateways track as they race across the sky, helping calibrate and verify ground segment networks outside laboratory conditions to prepare them for services.
365informations.com says calibrating gateways with drones is “much faster” than the traditional method of using a visible geostationary (GEO) satellite, according to Michele Franci, OneWeb’s chief of delivery and operations.
Franci said the farther north or south a gateway is the trickier it can also be to find a suitable GEO satellite to lock onto, because of how low they appear on the horizon beyond 50 degrees from the equator.
Outside of the lab, characterizing gateways can also be done by setting up beacons on top of poles, but he said disturbances created with this method can be difficult to manage.