ATSC Engineering Group Recognized for a Job Well Done

ATSC Update Magazine - April 1997

They each weigh 5.42 pounds and are the size of a couple of paperback novels, but as satellite radio transceivers go, they pack a powerful punch. Just ask the ATSC engineers who built them. "They look for very low level signals coming from the ground at any of the several thousand frequencies, and then process them, decode them, and send them on to the spacecraft computer - all in a matter of milliseconds," said Peter Militch, ATSC's leading engineer on the project.

At the same time, said Cal James, another ATSC engineer who worked on the digital signal processors, the radios can transmit back to the ground on several thousand other frequencies at three selectable power levels.

Each radio unit (there are five of them) has three computers executing a total of twelve thousand lines of code. The radios can perform these split-second electronic acrobatics using only 256 bytes of RAM. That's one ten-thousandth the memory on a typical desktop PC - not a lot of working space.

Militch and his team were asked by AlliedSignal's Micro-Electronic Technology Center (MTC) in Columbia, MD to help design and develop the five radio transceivers for Final Analysis, Inc.

Final Analysis plans to use the radios on board FAISAT 2v telecommunications satellite, which is scheduled to launch this spring from Siberia aboard a Russian rocket.

The engineering team, now within the new Systems and Technology Programs business enterprise, worked around the clock from March until October building the sophisticated flight hardware.

The engineers confronted multiple materials engineering and packaging challenges to build the radios to withstand the launch vibration, and the temperature and radiation conditions of space.

Before the radios could be delivered to the customer, they had to undergo rigorous thermal-vacuum and vibration testing at AlliedSignal's Guidance and Control System's laboratory in Teterboro, NJ.

"This project exemplified cross-sector cooperation. Everyone worked well together," said James.

ATSC delivered the radio units to Final analysis later last year. "The customer said we didn't just meet the specs, we exceeded them, and the radios were the best they'd ever seen," said Militch.

The extraordinary effort made by the engineering team did not go unnoticed. Each team members was given a special citation and a cash award.

"While we appreciate the awards very much," said Militch, "what we learned on the project was also gratifying. We extended our knowledge in systems engineering and were able to develop important new systems simulations modeling tools for future projects."

These are not the first radios that our company has built.  Click here to see an advertisement for some radios that were previously produced by our company at our Baltimore facility.

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