Saskatoon

Saskatoon company building next generation of satellite antennas

Calian SED has been building massive satellite dish systems for space communications and commercial use for more than 30 years. Now, it's looking toward making their systems even more high-tech.

New Calian SED dishes promise to improve signal with new carbon fibre antennas

Calian SED workers busy installing a massive satellite antenna on the island of Guadeloupe. (Supplied by Calian SED)

A Saskatoon company has spent more than 30 years quietly designing massive satellite dish systems designed to link the world together.

Now, Calian SED has announced it has moved into building the next generation of those massive six-to-10-metre wide antennas, made with advanced composite carbon fiber rather than steel or aluminum. And it's building them in Saskatoon.

"We realized that if we don't start making some more of our own product and some more of our own solutions, we're probably not going to last very long," said president Pat Thera.

The company worked with the National Research Council, the Canadian Space Agency and Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory to develop the technology.

Calian SED made the decision to switch to new carbon fiber dishes partially due to the expansion of the internet. More satellite networks are moving to higher-frequency ranges in the search for more bandwidth.

The new higher frequencies become a problem with traditional metal dishes, especially when it rains or is windy. The new carbon fiber dishes help solve that problem.

While Calian has traditionally relied on components designed by other companies, it's now working on building its own antennas.

"They're a quality crew of very young and driven engineers, technicians and assemblers," said Thera. "They're continually growing that facility to handle the capacity that we need."

Recently, a team installed a SED test antenna in the Caribbean country of Guadeloupe, to make sure the technology works.

The satellite systems are used for everything from commercial networking to space travel and defence applications.

According to the company, only a handful of companies in the world are working on similar projects.

Calian employs 3,200 people across Canada, the U.S. and other countries. Its satellite division is based in Saskatoon.

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