Flight Communications Systems

The Flight Communication Systems section engineers cost-effective develop spaceborne communications systems, services, instruments, antennas, and related-products including direct-to-Earth (DTE) and proximity relay links for NASA/JPL and non-NASA missions. We develop, deliver and support software-defined radios (SDRs), spacecraft and airborne antennas, RF power amplifiers,  and related products for RF system  applications.


We also specialize in optical communications, including sensitive single-photon  detectors and isolation platforms for accurate pointing. We develop telecommunications concepts and demonstrate, develop, an deliver  them for infusion into operational ground and space systems for NASA missions, both deep space and near earth,  and for DARPA and other agencies.


Key Section products include:

SDRs for Mars proximity links between the Curiosity rover to Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Other SDR missions include  NASA?s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, Trace Gas Orbiter for the European-led ExoMars mission, and the NASA Mars 2020 lander. 

The Section is also supporting delivery of flight antenna elements for the SWOT and NISAR radar missions. In the future, the next generation Universal Space Transponder will serve as proximity link for Mars and also relay data direct-to-Earth. The Section is developing an optical flight terminal that will return data from a NASA Discovery program mission.

Key Section facilities include:

JPL MESA Antenna Range

High Power Test Lab

Optical Communications Test Lab

Transponder Development Lab


Key Section capabilities include:

Spacecraft transponders, low-frequency analog and digital design and RF integrated circuits.

An in-depth and broad expertise in all aspects of optical communications design and implementation.

Spacecraft antenna R&D for Mars Orbiters & Rovers, Near Earth, Cubesats missions and instrument applications.

Microwave solid-state power amplifiers, traveling wave tube amplifiers and Extended Interaction Klystrons, high- and

low-voltage power supplies, and RF microwave design.

Telecom systems engineering support and mission planning; assembly, test and launch operations testing support; mission

proposal support; and telecom tools adaptation and evaluation.

In situ, proximity and relay communication radios; digital signal processing; digital design; and mobile communications.

Spacecraft RF electronics, microwave components and interconnects, and telecom system integration and test.

Flight communications system leadership and engineering for all project life cycle phases.