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G. Bacci, R. De Gaudenzi, M. Luise, L. Sanguinetti and E. Sebastiani, "Formation-of-Arrays Antenna Technology for High-Throughput Mobile Non-Terrestrial Networks," in IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems, 14 February 2023, p. 1-18

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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 bit rate per unit area on the ground by rather aggressive patterns of spatial frequency reuse. This goal calls for on-board narrow-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 arrays of antennas implemented as the ensemble of a few to many simpler sub-antennas of smaller sizes, carried by one (small) satellite each. The sub-antennas can in their turn be implemented like (regular) 2D arrays of simple radiating elements, realizing an overall (distributed) antenna architecture that we call “formation of arrays” (FoA). The satellites that implement this radiating architecture need to be relatively close to each other and constitute a formation of flying objects, to be coordinated and controlled as a whole. 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 network with low-earth or geostationary orbiting satellites directly providing 5G-like communication services to hand-held user terminals.