Andy Musliner, EVP & COO and Jeffrey Freedman, CEO
New, lower-cost satellites with digital payloads that can be configured and optimized on-the-fly, enable unprecedented flexibility. However, this new generation of payloads is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, a flexible, software-defined satellite payload is like a Swiss army knife, able to be reconfigured dynamically to meet a wide range of service needs. On the other hand – and exactly because the payload is so flexible – realizing these benefits requires sophisticated software that will exploit the satellite’s capabilities to configure and optimize the payload, provide the best service, and minimize cost per bit.
It is precisely here that Kythera Space Solutions’ expertise comes into play. The company specializes in the optimization and management of these next generation satellite payloads and SATCOM networks, enabling satellite operators to take maximal advantage of the flexible satellites they’re now buying. A recent spinoff from RKF Engineering, Kythera has been working for more than a decade on better managing and optimizing satellite payload resources, ultimately developing a novel satellite operating system for managing resources for these next generation flexible satellites, and more broadly, next-generation SATCOM networks. The Kythera OS, which is ground-based software, dynamically configures and controls the satellite payload and the associated ground systems, continually optimizing resources to maximize quality of service and minimize cost per bit.
As Jeffrey Freedman, Kythera’s CEO, puts it, “We are all about building the brain behind next generation SATCOM networks. Our solution helps manage the satellite payload, and coordinate and orchestrate with the ground components. This helps maximize the utilization of the resources on the satellite in a fully automated and dynamic way, in real-time. This also means that you can take full advantage of all of the flexible capabilities of these next generation satellites and provide continually optimal service to your customers.”
The Kythera OS manages the payload resources on the satellite, optimizing power, bandwidth, and capacity. For fleets of satellites or NGSO constellations, Kythera’s solution manages the entire network and optimizes utilization and performance across the fleet/ constellation.
The system works autonomously, and in real-time, provisioning satellite service as it is requested. When a satellite operator has a service request come in, the Kythera OS provisions service via the appropriate satellite, coordinating that service with the ground assets, including the modem and terminals. “We’re striving for seamless provisioning and management of service,” states Andy Musliner, EVP & COO. “The Kythera OS is also able to anticipate and compensate for and mitigate risks to that service, such as potential interference, rain fade, or gateway failure. In response to such an event, the system can, for instance, adjust power or transfer users from one antenna to another or from one satellite to another to compensate.”
Kythera is currently applying the Kythera OS architecture in its work with SES Networks to develop the Adaptive Resource Control (ARC) system. ARC is the world’s first fully autonomous, dynamic SATCOM network management system and will manage SES’ next-generation satellites, including their SES-17 GEO satellite, as well as their highly advanced O3b mPOWER MEO constellation. This groundbreaking system will enable SES to continually optimize their satellite payloads, and coordinate those payloads with all the ground resources, provision service dynamically, and automatically and autonomously run their entire satellite network.
Like commercial operators, governments around the globe are also looking to take advantage of the latest in flexible, software-defined, high throughput satellites. They too seek to leverage the dynamic ability to increase capacity, optimize service, and respond to service requests in a more timely fashion. Kythera offers the promise of a fully autonomous, dynamic SATCOM future while also offering the ability to address tactical government needs today.
Two key areas of focus in government are support for fast moving mobile users like aircraft, and mitigation of adversarial threats to service. The Kythera OS addresses both of these mission needs. “Our software enables you to have communication beams follow mobile users or have users that automatically switch from beam to beam. We can also switch users from orbit to orbit or satellite to satellite,” notes Freedman. Addressing the question of adversarial threats, Freedman continues, “Our software is able to recognize the threat risks and anticipate them before they occur, responding by avoiding or mitigating the risk.” The Kythera OS at once enables a far more agile SATCOM network and a more resilient one, able to better meet mission needs on a minute-by-minute basis while also being able to adapt under threat conditions. With a human in the loop or working fully autonomously, the Kythera OS enables the SATCOM network to provide reliable satellite service at operations tempo of the mission.
Software-defined, flexible high-throughput satellites are fundamentally changing the SATCOM landscape, bringing the promise of higher capacity and greater flexibility to SATCOM networks around the globe. Kythera uniquely enables these satellites to deliver on that promise, providing the sophisticated operating system that controls and manages the communications payloads. The Kythera OS is the brain behind the SATCOM network, enabling higher capacity, greater flexibility, lower cost, higher quality of service, and higher resilience. All in real-time, and fully autonomously. The pioneering work Kythera is doing today will result in far more responsive, reliable, and lower cost satellite networks of the future.