Gateway Station Geographical Planning for Emerging Non-Geostationary Satellites Constellations
Among the recent advances and innovations in satellite communications, Non-Geostationary Orbit (NGSO) satellite
constellations are gaining popularity as a viable option for providing widespread broadband internet access and backhauling services. However, a more complex ground segment with multiple ground stations is necessary due to these satellites’ high speeds and low altitudes. The complete dimensioning of the ground segment, including gateway optimal placement and the number of ground access points, remains a relevant open challenge. In this article, we provide an overview of the key factors that shall be considered for NGSO gateway station geographical planning. Subsequently, we propose a ground segment dimensioning approach that combines several criteria, such as rain attenuation, elevation angle, visibility, geographical constraints, and user traffic demands. The operational concept is first discussed, followed by a methodology that combines all these constraints into a single map-grid to select the best position for each gateway. Furthermore, a case study is presented, which demonstrates the performance of the proposed methodology, for one example constellation. Finally, we highlight relevant open challenges and key research directions in this area.