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Ceramic Microwave Circuits for Satellite Communications
a German BMWI/DLR Project (FKZ 50 YB 0627)

LEO Satellite TET-1
Partners References

A German BMWI/DLR project (Oct. 06 - Mar. 11): KERAMIS stands for the continued R&D-activities of an industrial-academic consortium of partners experienced with the design, development, and fabrication of compact microwave modules based on the ceramic multilayer technology LTCC (low-temperature cofired ceramic) for satellite communications at Ka-band frequencies.

LTCC technology offers great potential for cost-efficient three-dimensional hybrid-integrated hermetic modules of high functional density incorporating active and passive sub-modules and circuitry. Specific challenges of the project are:

  • to control the high structural precision required for industrial components for space-based microwave applicati ons,
  • to balance fabrication issues and microwave performance, and
  • to demonstrate full space qualification.

For this purpose, specific flight experiments have been developed and implemented on board of a test satellite for remote testing in space. A contribution to the competitiveness of the German-European space programme as well as the approval of innovative modular microwave design can be considered essential outcomes of the satellite flight. The duration of the project covers the period from October 2006 until March 2011.

Three experiments have been developed as payload equipment for on-orbit-verification (OOV) in a national R&D LEO satellite (TET-1):

Soyus-FG «Союз-ФГ»
Copyright of Roscosmos PAO

TET-1: Technologieerprobungsträger for On-Orbit Verification (OOV)
a Program of the "Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt" (DLR)
Total Mass
All Experimental Payloads
Number of Payloads
Payload Power Consumption
0,55m x 0,88m x 0,65m (W x H x D)
120 kg
50 kg
max. 20 W continuous

July 22, 2012:
Launch of TET-1 with Soyuz-FG/Fregat
from Baikonur
into Low-Earth-Orbit
(sun-synchronous orbit - 510km, 98° inclination)

DLR News

Experiment 1

Switch Matrix

Experiment 2


Experiment 3


The Technische Universität Ilmenau has developed an LTCC module incorporating a reconfigurable 4x4 switch matrix. The double-sided module integrates space-qualified PIN-diode SP4T switch ICs with broadband transmission lines and signal distribution networks. Between 18 and 27 GHz, a complete signal path displays return loss > 20 dB, insertion loss < 6 dB (without amplification), and path isolation > 50 dB. The module measures less than 2.5 x 2.5 x 1 cm³ and weighs about 20 g. To monitor performance and reliability on orbit, the flight module will be equipped with a digital controller, redundant signal sources, power detectors, and temperature sensors. The industrial partners of the consortium support the fabrication, implementation and space qualification of the payload module.
IMST GmbH is responsible for the design and development of tow Ka-band (20 GHz) payload boards. This experimental units are composed of modular LTCC components in hermetically sealed housings. Standard LGA or wire bond transitions are applied for HF transitions. The LTCC components are mounted on a multilayer PTFE substrate. The heart of the module is a fractional-N synthesizer in BiCMOS and CMOS technology with a SiGe VCO. Additional components are hybrid and MMIC amplifiers, mixers, SPDT switch and power detectors. The modular concept allows the implementation of reliable, flexible and space qualified transceiver units for multimedia satellite applications at low costs. The multilayer LTCC is manufactured by MSE while RHE processes the housing as well as the assembly and integration techniques.
The University Hamburg-Harburg is responsible for successful conversion of a transmitted analogue S-band signal to Ka-band and vice versa is the main goal of this payload module. To this end, different transceiver configurations are designed, which consist of previously developed basic LTCC modules like mixers, signal sources and power amplifiers. The general suitability and versatility of advanced LTCC packaging in combination with hybrid integration methods for high reliability applications are verified.

4 x 4 switch matrix

SiGe fractional-N synthesizer in LTCC housing

Flip-chip components on multilayer PTFE

Synthesizer experimental board (PFM = Protoflight Model)


Open KERAMIS box with 6 experimental boards, DC supply and interface board (EM = Engineering Model)


Closed KERAMIS box, fully tested, ready for integration (PFM = Protoflight Model)


TET-1: Courtesy of Astro- und Feinwerktechnik Adlershof GmbH, Berlin


Project period:
Oct. 2006 - March 2007
Project ID:
Partners Country Description
DLR DE German Space Agency (Bonn): Project Coordinator
RHe Microsystems GmbH DE Manufacturer of thick- and thin-film RF circuits; packaging and assembly
Technical University
DE Microwave circuit design and characterisation
IMST GmbH DE Microwave circuit design and characterisation; modelling; LTCC prototyping
MSE Microsystems
Engineering GmbH & Co.
DE Manufacturer of LTCC circuits and modules; AIT
Technical University
DE Microwave circuit design and characterisation; LTCC prototyping
EPAK GmbH DE Supplier of satellite technology
Sub-Contractors Country Description
ASTRO DE System definitions: Specifications, interfaces, documentation

Technology: Integration, tests, qualification, housing, construction

Kayser-Threde DE Procurement of space qualified components and technologies, and support in documentation, delivery of of DC supply and interface boards
EADS-Astrium DE Consultancy in scientific, space and economical questions


# References
Link DLR Internet Site
Link DLR On-Orbit-Verifikation
Link On-Orbit Verification TET
Flyer KERAMIS-Flyer
PDF Publication List (May-2010)


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