The Harris Corporation announced May 30 that it had been awarded a $6.26 million contract from the Air Force through a Defense Innovation Unit program to develop a prototype ground antenna system that would be capable of linking to multiple satellites at the same time.

“Until recently, there hasn’t been a need to increase the number of simultaneous satellite connections, and doing so was cost prohibitive,” explained Harris spokesperson Kristin Jones. “A congested space domain is now driving the need for a solution, and Harris has a cost-efficient way to meet the demand. We’ve developed a unique approach using state-of-the-art technology for 5G systems that makes the business case for the Air Force to transition to an operational solution.”

While most satellite antennas currently in use can only support ongoing contact with one satellite at a time, Harris claims their prototype will feature phased-array antennas that would be capable of maintaining contact with multiple satellites at once. The system is required to be able to contact two satellites per band simultaneously, although Jones said that Harris’ stretch goal is to have eight simultaneous communications per band.

“The new Harris antenna system will help the Air Force address the need for efficient communications with its growing number of satellites on orbit,” said Rob Mitrevski, vice president and general manager of Harris Environmental Solutions.