HYLAS (Highly Adaptable Satellite)

The Satellite

HYLAS-1, the Highly Adaptable Satellite, is owned and operated by Avanti Communications of London.

The satellite had a launch mass of 2240 kg (1109 kg dry mass), with payload power of 2kW, with a design lifetime of 15 years. The I-2K satellite bus (that is the spacecraft that supports the communications payload) was developed by Antrix Corporation in India. The size of the satellite is 4.2 x1.6 x 2.6 m (9m with solar array deployed), slightly smaller than many modern communications satellites. It is a 3-axes stablised platform, i.e. the antennas point continuously at the earth.

The advanced communications payload was developed by prime contractor EADS Astrium in Portsmouth. The payload comprises 8 flexible Ka-band forward link transponders and 1 flexible return link transponder. The reconfigurable payload allows surplus capacity to be redirected to follow the demand for services. The antennas comprise: One 1.6m Ku-band reflecting antenna (linear polarised), and two 1.6m x 3.5m elliptical antennas, generating 8 spot beams for broadband services.

The satellite was assembled and tested at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) facility in Bangalore, before being flown more than halfway round the world for launch at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana on board flight V198 using an Ariane 5 launch vehicle.

The satellite is an innovative project in more ways than one: this is the first satellite to be developed through a public-private partnership between ESA and a commercial satellite operator (will own and operate the satellite). HYLAS benefits from investment from the British National Space Centre (BNSC) and the European Space Agency (ESA). The satellite was developed for Avanti communications in partnership with EADS Astrium in the UK. The main the European Space Agnecy contribution is the highlyreconfigurable satellite payload, from which the satellite takes its name.

The satellite is now in an orbital location which is 33.5 degrees West. At this position it is being used to provide broadband Internet access and to distribute and to broadcast High Definition Television (HDTV) that will cover 22 countries in western and central Europe.

Satellite Control Centre: Inmarsat HQ, East London.

Gateway Stations: Goonhilly, UK (primary); Lands-End, UK (Backup).

Projects at University of Aberdeen

The University is partnering with Avanti in two innovative projects that will use Hylas-1:

Digital Advanced Rural Testbed (DART)

The University of Aberdeen was recently announced as a partner in the Digital Advanced Rural Testbed (DART), jointly funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), UK Industry, and with a research contribution funded by partnership resource of the Digital Economy dot.rural hub. DART will utilise Hylas-1 to provide a nation-wide demonstration platform that will be used to develop and test innovative services for next generation broadband access. To test the services, applications will be developed and integrated with a common management system (where srevices will be created and data will be logged).

DART enables multicast transmission across the UK and sees the development of services as an important part of the NGA landscape. This enables satellite IP broadcast to play an important role equally in both rural and urban settings.

For the University of Aberdeen, DART expands lab-based research to enable direct collaboration with established industry partners and importantly with a cross-section of key stakeholders, from content owners to network operators and rural user communities. Examples of new techniques include delivering "semi-interactive" high-quality TV services to users with limited Internet service (using a combination of reliable multicast, caching and content meta-data techniques); development of micropayments linked to QoS opening the way for new business models to support telepresence (linking mirco-billing, and QoS), high-speed upload (micro-billing linked to radio resourcemanagement), and mirco-broadcast (micro-payements linked to multicast service).

In Phase 1 of the project, the University of Aberdeen will assist with the design of the testbed architecture and initial recruitment of users for the DART testbed. These will be selected with the assistance of the dot.rural DE hub at the Universityof Aberdeen. Users will be selected to compliment the experiments, their ability to participate in the testbed and other factors, such as location professional/residential, etc. All users in the testbed will be supported by user engagement activities to raise awareness of the testbed goals and encourage feedback from the user community.

In Phase 2 of the project, the University will seek to gain additional interested experimenters by holding experimenter workshops presentations, web pages, media relations, an direct mailings to promote the testbed and initial testbed results. This activity builds upon an existing active DE engagement programme throughout the UK organized by Dr Claire Thorne, and can utilize the databases of existing DE contacts and interested parties.


More info about DART is here.

Satellite Internet Rural Access (SIRA)

The Satellite Internet Rural Access project is one of two phase 1 projects in the Enterprise and Culture theme of the DE dot.rural hub. This is a 3 year project that will jointly explore technology and socio-economic aspects of rural access.

A coordinated research engaging industry (Avanti PLC), academia and users is essential to explore the socio-economic issues, such as the challenging questions of user expectation/need, geographic/demographic distribution of expected early adopters of premium "superfast" services, and to understand appropriate models for recovering service costs and selection and optimiastion of the network technologies to be used.

Broadband is a technology that enables both businesses and the public to access a wide variety of new Information Communication Technology (ICT) services. This suite of technologies offers the potential to transform the development and use of ICT applications and services. Businesses in the UK are deploying ICT more pervasively and innovatively than ever before. We now see employees on the move quite at ease accessing their company network through remote connections, and more broadly, businesses are ever more integrated in their exchange of product, schedule and financial information.

Universal broadband access is key to addressing the needs of the digital divide. Where there is no wired broadband available, wireless technologies, can ensure the continued viability of remote rural communities allowing them to function as a part of the digital economy. It essential that access to this digital infrastructure is available across all parts of the UK.

SIRA will explore the requirements and technologies for satellite broadband using a set of 3 case studies supported by research into new satellite technology. New access technologies, such as Ka-band transmission, reconfigurable spot beams, adaptive coding and modulation will together enable a significant increase in satellite access speed. The research in SIRA will explore networking aspects of the service: how to optimise web download, methods to enhance the QoS for voice and video services and cross-layer interactions required to realise a multi-service network, together with the relationship to the services offered to customers.

SIRA plans to deploy 3-4 satellite terminals using the Hylas-1 satellite. The project will explore the impact of enabling broadband using a set of rural case studies. Results will be analysed by developing new models for user traffic seeking to realise acceptable quality at competitive pricing.

The diagram below shows the relationship of the SIRA case studies to other dot.rural activities (DART and DEAR).

Further Information