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Lockheed Martin Prepares First 5G.MIL® Payload for Orbit

First Regenerative Non-Terrestrial Network 5G Satellite Base Station Completes Final Demo Prior to Space Mission.

Lockheed Martin Prepares First 5G.MIL® Payload for Orbit

Lockheed Martin is one step away from showcasing how its 5G.MIL® capability can reach all domains around the world. In its final successful lab demonstration, the company validated that its innovative space payload is set to deliver global advanced communications capabilities from orbit. During the October demonstration, Lockheed Martin showcased the industry’s first fully regenerative Advanced 5G Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) Satellite Base Station – developed as a space component of the company’s 5G.MIL Unified Network Solutions Program. In 2024, in a self-funded mission, the company will launch this payload to orbit bringing 5G’s capabilities to the final frontier to prove its capability to connect the globe.

About the Demonstration
In a live hardware-in-the-loop lab environment, the Advanced 5G NTN Satellite Base Station performed high-speed data transfers connecting with prototype NTN user equipment, compliant with 3GPP Release 17, an industry standard for improved radio flexibility and low latency. During a simulated satellite orbital pass, the Satellite Base Station, running on space-hardened flight hardware, and the user equipment on the ground successfully connected and transferred data, including live video streaming. “Space layer capabilities are essential for consistent, secure connectivity and global coverage for 5G communications systems. 5G from space will enable Joint All-Domain Command and Control operations especially in austere environments, remote locations and contested areas,” said Joe Rickers, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for Connectivity, Transport and Access. “Our Satellite Base Station is real, operational hardware and we’re excited for the next step -- integrating this powerful payload into our self-funded Tactical Satellite which we’ll launch next year.”

How It Works

  • Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Satellite Base Station for 5G, or gNodeB, as it is technically known:
  • Includes a full 5G New Radio (NR) Radio Access Network (RAN) stack, RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) and 5G Stand Alone (SA) Core running on space-qualified flight hardware that will fly on the TacSat.
  • Is reprogrammable on orbit using Lockheed Martin’s SmartSat™ software-defined satellite architecture.
  • Can be structured with a split architecture placing the Control Unit (CU) on the ground and the Distributed Unit (DU) on the satellite, further enhancing network implementation options.
  • Connects to industry-leading prototype NTN user equipment through a space communications channel emulator that introduced doppler and delay parameters consistent with a satellite Low Earth Orbit.

Why it Matters
“Space-based communications will provide high-speed backhaul to land, air and sea 5G.MIL Hybrid Base Stations as well as direct access to user equipment running 3GPP NTN standard protocols from orbit,” said Dan Rice, vice president for Lockheed Martin’s 5G.MIL Programs. “Regenerative NTN solutions enable direct, satellite-based secure communications between users in a coverage area – bypassing more vulnerable terrestrial networks when necessary.”

Lockheed Martin’s standards-based approach is compliant with 3GPP Release 17 and was developed in anticipation of pre-Release 18 & 19 regenerative specifications. 5G NTN provides another communications pathway to support ubiquitous, heterogeneous communications across all operational domains in support of customer missions.

Strategic Collaboration

  • Leading up to this successful pre-launch demonstration, Lockheed Martin has developed and integrated the regenerative 5G NTN HBS-Space system over the past 3 years working with key subcontractors:
  • AccelerComm™ provided an advanced 5G NTN Layer 1 PHY solution, developed to support Lockheed Martin’s system requirements and space flight hardware specifications.
  • Radisys supplied 5G NTN Layer 2/3 and 5G SA Core software, working with Lockheed Martin to ensure interface implementation enabled seamless integration with L1 and RIC solutions.
  • Keysight supported 3GPP standards-based development testing of Lockheed Martin’s regenerative 5G NTN base station via their 5G NTN user equipment simulation (UeSIM) product suite.

The Advanced 5G Satellite Base Station is the lynch pin in Lockheed Martin’s vision to provide global 5G connectivity. For the past three years, the company has been investing in, developing and demonstrating fixed, relocatable, mobile and now, space variants, of its Hybrid Base Stations. “These tools are a major part of our 21st Century Security vision to always keep our customers ahead of ready,” Rice added.

"5G satellite communication promises to unlock a whole new world of services and applications for government organisations and individuals, and we are proud to have worked with Lockheed Martin and its partners on delivering this vision. A space deployed - scalable 3GPP Release 17 compatible 5G gNodeB proves that 5G NTN communications is a reality. AccelerComm’s LEOphy delivers higher data rates with reduced power and has dedicated features to overcome the specific challenges of NTN channels. We look forward to continuing our partnership, and to further developing advanced 5G Layer 1 NTN solutions that deliver the robustness, latency, and throughput that are critical to the success of 5G in space." - Tom Cronk, Chief Executive Officer, AccelerComm

"Radisys is pleased to achieve this successful 3GPP-based satellite connectivity demonstration in partnership with Lockheed Martin to advance NGSO SATCOM solutions for rapidly evolving global communication needs. With our award-winning Release 17 Connect RAN 5G Software’s NTN evolution, Radisys looks forward to continuing to work with Lockheed Martin and its partners to develop advanced regenerative 5G NTN solutions for communication services available across all operational domains." - Munish Chhabra, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Software and Services, Radisys

"Keysight is pleased to collaborate with Lockheed Martin on successfully demonstrating a regenerative NTN 5G NR Base Station by providing our 5G NTN user equipment (UE) simulator and Wavejudge wireless analyzer to facilitate testing and evaluation of Lockheed Martin's 3GPP-compliant NTN base station. Our UE simulator provided validation of the base station’s required behaviors and performance, including during integration testing on reference flight hardware and early hardware-in-the loop (HWIL) confidence demonstrations. Keysight looks forward to continuing to provide software and hardware emulation tools to accelerate the technology advancement of 5G NTN Base Stations together with Lockheed Martin and its partners." - Vince Nguyen, Vice President/General Manager, Aerospace, Defense, and Government Solutions, Keysight Technologies

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