Instructor Information

John Carmody

Home Phone: 410-750-1019
Work Phone: 443-255-6444

Dr. Carmody has thirty years of experience in industry developing human speech processing systems and communications systems.  He has been described as a "blue collar" PhD becuase he has worked every aspect from conceptual design through deployment and support.

Course Information

Course Description

This course presents the fundamentals of satellite communications link design and an in-depth treatment of practical considerations. Existing commercial, civil, and military systems are described and analyzed, including direct broadcast satellites, high throughput satellites, VSAT links, and Earth-orbiting and deep space spacecraft. Topics include satellite orbits, link analysis, antenna and payload design, interference and propagation effects, modulation techniques, coding, multiple access, and Earth station design. The impact of new technology on future systems in this dynamic field is discussed.


525.416 Communication Systems Engineering or equivalent or permission of the instructor.

Course Goal

The course goal for Satellite Communications is to provide the student with the basic understanding of the unique challenges of designing, developing, fielding, maintaining, and operating satellite communications systems.Several case studies will be examined for GEO, LEO, and other types of satellite systems.

Course Objectives

  • The first of the primary course objectives is to understand how mission dictates orbit.This will require the student to understand the basics of orbital mechanics, the types of satellite orbits, the location of ground stations, and the look angles from ground stations to the satellite.User footprints will also be covered.

  • The second primary objective is to use and understanding of link budget equations to provide sufficient margin for performance.This includes examining the various types of modulation, error correcting codes, and encryption.
  • The third primary objective is to examine concepts of satellite networking.This includes mobile satellite systems for voice and internet communication, data networks, and scientific data.
  • The fourth primary objective is to take a practical look at the engineering impact of the various satellite components on performance.These include power, size, materials used, and attitude control.

When This Course is Typically Offered

This course is typically taught in the fall semester in Montgomery County.


  • Orbital Mechanics
  • Ground Stations and Baseband Processing
  • Uplink and downlink design
  • Spacecraft components
  • Link Budgets
  • Satellite Networking
  • Mobile Satellite Systems
  • Navigation Satellite Systems
  • Interplanetary Space Probes

Student Assessment Criteria

Homework (6 assignments) 25%
Midterm (electronic) 20%
Project 1 15%
Project 2 and Presentation 15%
Final (electronic) 25%

Computer and Technical Requirements

A working knowledge of MATLAB is very helpful.

Participation Expectations

There will be group projects and the development of a SATCOM tool for general class use.


Textbook information for this course is available online through the MBS Direct Virtual Bookstore.

Course Notes

There are notes for this course.

(Last Modified: 08/30/2009 07:45:15 PM)