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G. Bacci, R. de Gaudenzi, M. Luise, L. Sanguinetti, and E. Sebastiani, “Formation-of-arrays multi-satellite high-gain spaceborne antenna for (B)5G communications,” in Proc. Intl. Commun. Satellite Systems Conf. (ICSSC), Stresa, Italy, Oct. 2022.

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Effective integration of terrestrial and non-terrestrial segments is one of the key research avenues in the design of current and future wireless communication networks. To this aim, modern communication-satellite constellations intend to attain sufficiently high throughput in terms of bitrate per unit area on the ground by rather aggressive patterns of spatial frequency reuse. This goal calls for on-board narrow-size beam antennas, whose size turns out to be in many cases incompatible with the size, mass, and accommodation constraints of the hosting satellite. This paper investigates the attainable performance of large distributed antenna arrays implemented as the ensemble of a few-to-many simpler and smaller sub-arrays, carried by one (small) satellite each. The sub-arrays can in their turn be implemented like (regular) 2D arrays of simple radiating elements, realizing an overall antenna architecture that we call formation of arrays (FoA). In this paper, we develop a theoretical analysis of an FoA antenna, and we show how to take advantage of this new technology to improve network throughput in a multi-beam S-band mobile communication system with low-earth and geostationary orbiting satellites providing 5G-like communication services to hand-held user terminals.

Keywords: Terrestrial/non-terrestrial integrated networks, multi-satellite architectures, formation of arrays, beyond-5G communications, ultra-high directivity antennas.