Lattice Blog


New Space Applications & System Requirements

Q4 LinkedIn Live Blog
Posted 11/29/2022 by Jim Tavacoli, Sr. Director of Aerospace & Defense, Lattice Semiconductor

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New innovation and advanced technological capabilities have recently reenergized public interest in space exploration. We’ve seen a big leap forward in the knowledge of what exists and what we’ve yet to discover thanks to the continued advancement of both governmental and commercial space ventures. Emerging applications such as communication infrastructure in an industry that has historically relied on mature technologies is causing the industry to take a new, faster approach to system development. These next generation space systems are creating a new era of space exploration: New Space.

While traditional space system development required components that took 5 to 10 years to develop and long duration missions, New Space systems are being developed at a much faster pace for shorter missions.

Fortunately, solutions are already being developed and deployed to solve this challenge. In our latest LinkedIn Live panel discussion, we sat down with our partners at European Space Agency, Tesat Spacecom, and CAES to discuss New Space system requirements, the design challenges introduced by New Space applications, and how FPGAs and access to the latest technologies can help embedded designers develop New Space systems.

Q4 LinkedIn Live Webinar Watch Now Image

What is New Space?

New Space is where the greatest innovation and research in space is happening. While not clearly defined, today New Space really focuses on two things: low earth orbit (LEO) missions and constellations propelled by government and private sources of funding.

LEO missions leverage access to the latest technologies that enable higher performance systems and more flexible architectures. These missions are increasing in frequency and are being used for new services such as internet services or earth observation, making space more approachable and relevant than ever.

In fact, according to, there were 1,400 satellites launched into LEO in 2021.This trend is expected to continue into 2022 and beyond – with some estimates close to 60,000 satellites in LEO by 2030.

The Evolving New Space Ecosystem

As this new wave of space exploration is still fairly new, the ecosystem is still evolving which makes establishing requirements and standards relatively challenging. There is no homogenous landscape and the requirements for systems and components often depend on the specific customer and mission.

Further, due to the extreme conditions of the LEO environment, systems and components must be far more reliable and able to withstand natural radiation.

Fortunately, the industry is already making strides to overcome these challenges. New architectures are in development that start off with early deployment in LEO and scale to class-1 missions and assurance requirements. The mission profiles, such as “class-1”, define the level of assurance obtained through testing, screening, data collection and evaluation of components. This approach helps accelerate deployment and ensure reliability for the targeted mission while keeping budgets in mind.

To further accelerate deployment, new universal standards must be defined. Organizations like NASA and ESA are working to develop new industry specifications, test methodologies, and reliability screens to ensure successful missions. In the meantime, having systems and components that can scale is important to ensure they can adjust to evolving requirements.

In addition to scalability, to address these deployment time and standards demands, many systems and components are now being developed with two important aspects in mind: radiation reliability and risk assessment. This allows designers to examine reliability trades with the design and architecture process. FPGA technology has proven to be an optimal solution in helping embedded system designers overcome these challenges.

FPGA Technology in the New Space Industry

FPGA technology presents several key benefits to New Space. First and foremost, FPGAs can easily be reprogrammed while in orbit. This is key to allowing the system to be improved or altered after launch, particularly if requirements or standards have changed.

Bird's-eye View of FPGA

Second, FPGAs have been undergoing radiation testing and flight screening to not only ensure that they’re capable of withstanding the harsh space conditions and surviving the mission, but that they’re also reliable and recoverable during the mission. There is a growing demand in New Space for devices with a high degree of radiation tolerance and redundancy and FPGAs can fill this need.

Lastly, FPGAs can be reused in new products or components and bring an established ecosystem along with them. This means that New Space developers do not need to spend time and effort setting up and testing an entirely new system but, rather, can utilize an existing one that follows the requirements and standards of the new mission. For example, Lattice FPGAs are widely radiation-tested by a large international ecosystem of subject matter experts, and this information can be shared amongst ecosystem developers to eliminate the need for redundant testing for a similarly spec’d mission.

Overall, FPGAs are an ideal solution to address the challenges of New Space requirements and standards and can help create a more accessible ecosystem as the New Space industry grows.

Lattice Value Proposition

The Future of New Space

The New Space market is a fast-moving market with an evolving set of requirements. However, the challenges are clear – New Space needs technology that is scalable and reliable, above all else.

Due to the ever-changing nature of New Space, collaboration is key. No one entity has all the solutions. With strong partnerships, we can create and develop innovative, scalable, and reliable technology – like FPGAs – to meet the demands of various mission types and requirements and drive success in the next frontier.

To learn more about Lattice’s role in New Space and how Lattice FPGAs are enabling faster, more reliable application development, visit the space applications webpage on the Lattice website.