Phased Array Communication Payload


Ka-Band High-Speed Downlink Payload

Nightingale I is a fully-integrated Ka-band phased array communication system that provides a complete hardware and software solution for high-speed RF links with a dynamically-steerable beam. The system includes an active phased array antenna as well as a software-defined radio, single-board computer, power converter, and RF front-end – all integrated into a seamless high-speed downlink solution.

The complete-system approach and small form factor allow for plug and play integration with LEO spacecraft and airborne platforms, while the tile architecture allows for system scaling and adaptation to mission requirements. Per-element array control enables on-orbit optimization of power and beam shape.

Cesium’s approach pushes the envelope to provide a cost-effective phased array solution on aggressive schedules – a key enabler of LEO constellations.



Complete “Bits to Photons” Solution:

  • Includes a software-defined radio, frequency converters, power conditioning, and digital control

Compact Form Factor:

  • 120mm x 83mm x 7mm packaged (APA-1AT1)

  • 50mm x 84mm x 13mm packaged (SDR, SBC, PCU, UDC)

Steerable Phased Array:

  • Software-selectable center frequency

  • Digitally-steerable and shapeable beam

  • Electronic steering to +/- 60°

  • Time-division duplexing (TDD) architecture for transmit and receive from one aperture

Software-Defined Communication System:

  • Ships with an out-of-the-box integrated modem, along with an SDR Dev Kit for user-defined waveforms

  • Software API to turn azimuth/elevation angles into beam steering, along with payload packet management and health and status checks

  • Power management options using low-power modes throughout the system

  • Quad-core ARM processing with Linux or VxWorks with optional SBC

Modular Architecture:

  • Scalable Array: Tiles can be added to increase the aperture size

  • Common Back-end: Other frequency bands can be supported by the same power and digital modules

Flexible Interfaces​:

  • Digital: Includes options for Ethernet, RS-422, SpaceWire, SPI

  • Mechanical: Configurable, conformal mounting options for spacecraft ranging from CubeSats to large LEO constellations

Designed for Aerospace:

  • Suitable for both military and commercial applications on LEO satellites and airborne platforms

  • Ruggedized design in an aluminum enclosure

  • Thermal management included


  • APA-1AT1 Single-Beam Ka-Band Active Phased Array Antenna

  • SDR-1001 Software-Defined Radio

  • SBC-1461 Single-Board Computer (Optional)

  • PCU-1C28 Power Conditioning Unit

  • UDC-1AT1 Up / Down Converter



Nightingale I system shown on a 6U platform with one active phased array tile. The system is modular and can be configured to your specific needs or frequency requirements.



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