Telesat LEO 3 illustration. Credit: Telesat

WASHINGTON — Kratos Defense & Security Solutions announced April 4 it completed a demonstration of satellite-based broadband for the U.S. Army using a virtual ground system — a software-defined alternative to traditional hardware-based ground stations for controlling satellite constellations.

The company won a contract in 2022 to conduct the demonstration for the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications Tactical (PEO C3T) as part of a broader push to modernize voice and data communication for tactical units. The Army is looking for ways to tap into commercial capabilities rather than having to build its own bespoke space networks.

Kratos used its OpenSpace Platform, a virtualized satellite communications (satcom) ground system. In the demonstration, it showed it can beam internet down from spacecraft in low Earth orbit directly to small antennas used by soldiers, streamlining the signal path.

Telesat’s LEO 3 satellite used in demo

For the demo, Kratos connected a Cobham tracker antenna to Telesat’s LEO 3 satellite. This is an experimental satellite Telesat launched in July 2023 as a pathfinder for the company’s Lightspeed LEO constellation, a planned network of broadband satellites.

“The demonstration showed a flexible network architecture that allowed soldiers to connect Telesat’s LEO 3 satellite through Cobham antennas,” Kratos said in a news release.

Telesat’s LEO 3, launched aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket, is one of seven demonstration satellites. LEO 3 has Ka- and V-band payloads.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...