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Tethers Unlimited’s radio aces first orbital test

Tethers Unlimited radio
The software-defined SWIFT-SLX S-band radio is designed to fit on a CubeSat-class satellite. (Tethers Unlimited Photo)

Tethers Unlimited weathered a wave of bad news over the winter, but now some good news has bloomed. The company, headquartered in Bothell, Wash., reports that its SWIFT-SLX S-band radio has been successfully operated in orbit.

The compact software-defined radio provided two-way communications between Harris Corp.’s first small satellite, known as HSAT-1, and the satellite’s ground operators, Tethers Unlimited said this week in a news release. HSAT was launched last November by India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, with Seattle-based Spaceflight handling logistical support.

SWIFT-SLX is designed to fit on CubeSat-class spacecraft, and can be configured to meet a wide range of mission needs, including in-flight adjustment of operating frequencies for S- and L-band communications. Development of the radio was supported with Small Business Innovation Research grants from the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Army Space and Missile Defense Center.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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