Keysight Technologies, Inc. has released Defying Gravity, a new space technology survey revealing that three in four decision-makers consider software test automation as one of the top technical challenges impacting the satellite industry.

The survey found that 76 per cent of industry professionals see software test automation as the top challenge, followed by 53 per cent for system-level modeling and simulation, and 46 per cent for design validation. These findings highlight the need for advanced automation and emulation tools that can accelerate design and engineering processes. This is reflected in the top industry trends identified by respondents, with 43 per cent citing shortened product development times as the leading trend, followed by 37 per cent for advanced payload systems, and 34 per cent for artificial intelligence (AI).

Commenting on the findings, Greg Patschke, general manager, aerospace/defence and government solutions group, Keysight, said, “The satellite industry is undergoing a major transformation, driven by accelerating technology development in the commercial space sector and is now turning out new designs with vastly reduced cycle times. The need for high fidelity simulation and emulation as well as testing expertise, has never been greater to ensure successful mission and business outcomes.”

Other key findings from the Defying Gravity survey include:


  • Satellites driving industry trends – When looking at the top ten industry trends for the next three years, respondents mentioned satellites most frequently. The top trend identified was small satellites in geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO), followed by very high throughput satellites, cybersecurity, in-orbit services, and large constellations in low earth orbit (LEO).
  • Data gathering and communications top impacts – When identifying the applications that will impact the industry the most, respondents most frequently cited data gathering, research, and communications. The top application cited was big-data gathering and analytics, followed by uses including earth observation, global positioning/time services, science/research, and internet/voice/broadcast services.
  • Costs and supply chain greatest risks – When asked to assess the greatest risks to their projects, respondents reported that costs and supply chain were their primary concerns. The top risk cited was unpredictability in costs, followed by part/subsystem supply, technical scope, and program funding.

To help the industry decision makers and engineers take advantage of these trends by addressing their complex technical challenges, Keysight offers complete space and satellite solutions focused on the end-to-end design and development product lifecycle and ecosystem. This includes support for the entire satellite product lifecycle from design to validation, including operations, ground stations, and user terminals, as well as proven testing expertise for satellite payloads, radio frequency systems, and power sub-systems.

Meanwhile, Greg Patschke added, “By relying on Keysight’s end-to-end design and validation tools, our customers can be more confident that their satellite and its subsystems will work the first time, every time, throughout the duration of its entire mission”.

In addition, tools such as Keysight’s PathWave System Design (SystemVue) can accelerate product development cycles through digital twin technology that emulates system-level designs in real-world scenarios. Keysight also accelerates software development through the automated testing capabilities of the  AI  -enabled Eggplant test platform.

Coleman Parkes Research conducted the research on behalf of Keysight. C-suite members to managers from the space and satellite ecosystem were interviewed for the survey. Represented organisations included satellite developers, manufacturers, sub-system suppliers, operators, and service providers from the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe.