Lockheed Martin in final steps to launch 5G.MIL payload to space

16 November 2023
An artist rendering of how 5G.MIL could operate from space for a global connectivity. Source: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin has successfully completed a final lab demonstration for what it claims is the first fully regenerative advanced 5G non-terrestrial network (NTN) satellite base station.

The company is now prepping to launch this payload into orbit to connect 5G worldwide from space in 2024.

The technology was developed as part of Lockheed’s 5G.MIL unified network solutions program. The 5G.MIL system is a 5G-enabled heterogenous so-called “network of networks” designed to integrate warfighting domains across military tactical, strategic and enterprise networks by leveraging commercial telecommunication infrastructure technology.

The advanced satellite base station for 5G, also called gNodeB:

  • Features full 5G new radio (NR) radio access network (RAN) stack, RAN intelligent controller and 5G standalone core flying on TacSat
  • Is reprogrammable on orbit
  • Can be split architecture structured
  • Connects to industry-leading prototype NTN user equipment

The final demo

The final demonstration for 5G.MIL NTN was performed using high-speed data transfers connecting prototype NTN user equipment.

A simulated satellite pass running space-hardened flight hardware was able to successfully connect and transfer data to a user on the ground including live video streaming.

“Space layer capabilities are essential for consistent, secure connectivity and global coverage for 5G communications systems,” said Joe Rickers, VP of connectivity, transport and access at Lockheed Martin. “5G from space will enable joint all-domain command and control operations especially in austere environments, remote locations and contested areas. 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.”

The advanced 5G satellite base station is part of Lockheed Martin’s global 5G connectivity strategy to develop and demonstrate fixed, relocatable, mobile and space variants.

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