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Thales’ traveling wave tubes: The secret behind satellite communications

Telecommunications work like a relay race. A signal transmitted by the ground is picked up by the satellite’s receiver antenna, filtered, its frequency changed and amplified, and then passed through a network of transmission antennas before being routed back down to Earth.
Thales’ traveling wave tubes (TWTs) and amplifiers are behind this relay race. Today, with over 18,357 Thales TWTs launched into orbit since 1974 and 900 million hours of operation, the technology supports the majority of global communication uplinks.

“Most data sent by satellites uses a Thales amplifier,” Jean-François Auboin, Space Programs Director at Thales, says, “and the utility is huge.”

Thales today sets the global standard for civil and military data transmission. Applications include space-based HDTV and radio broadcasting, data transmission, telecommunications, internet, in-flight connectivity, observation and navigation.

We are adapting to a big shift in the space market,” Jean-François Auboin shares. “We are improving our performance in bandwidth, linearity, efficiency and reliability.”

He acknowledges that Thales do so as a company that is already seen as a reference in the market.

Over the past years, Thales has built-up an unmatched expertise in Traveling Wave Tubes technology for both Satcom downlinks and uplinks. We today rely on these power amplification solutions in satellites to keep us safe and connected.