Danish startup QuadSAT uses specially equipped quadcopter drones as satellite stand-ins to help antenna makers and their customers test and calibrate antennas. Credit: QuadSAT

TAMPA, Fla. — An antenna verification framework used by geostationary satellite operators has started accepting ground station measurements from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Danish drone venture Quadsat said March 6.

Quadsat said the Satellite Operators Minimum Antenna Performance (SOMAP) group, set up a decade ago to provide guidance for antenna makers, has concluded drones are an acceptable way to test new products.

The six-year-old company has developed quadcopters that can be integrated with custom radio-frequency payloads it says enable antennas to be tested and calibrated more efficiently outside laboratory conditions.

Quadsat’s pseudo-satellites have also been used to test OneWeb’s low Earth orbit network. 

SOMAP was founded by Intelsat, SES, Inmarsat, AsiaSat, and Eutelsat — which is in the middle of buying OneWeb to create a multi-orbit network. Eutelsat and SES have previously used Quadsat drones to test antennas.

In addition to standardizing minimum antenna testing and performance requirements, SOMAP helps manufacturers validate the data they provide operators via product datasheets.

Joakim Espeland, Quadsat’s CEO, said being SOMAP-compliant will help the company expand services globally to accelerate the deployment of increasingly complex antennas and reduce their risk of interference.

The venture launched a productized version of its verification system in November that enables customers to use the technology without a Quadsat engineer on site.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...