XTAR’s X-Band Service Reputation for Dependability & Lack of Interference Can Make Our Payload Operations Technicians a Little Lonely

Let me start off by saying XTAR is a tremendous place to work, the missions are exciting, the people are inspiring, the applications are fascinating, and above all, I work with an excellent team. Technically, my work is intriguing and the environment is innovative. But, like the Maytag Repairman, the reliability and lack of interference from our X-Band satellites can make this job a little lonely at times.

Before coming to XTAR, the majority of my day as a payload operations tech at one of the large Ku-band operators would be spent battling radio frequency interference (RFI) and dealing with unhappy customers as a result. Let me tell you, that stuff was everywhere – sweepers, cross-pol, mis-points, and on and on. Wrestling interference in all its ugly forms was a full time job for me and a host of colleagues.

Now my life is different. Since X-band doesn’t have interference issues like other satellite frequencies, I am left with a lot of time. Now I use that time working on ways to improve our customers experience and maximize efficiencies behind the scenes.

This newfound freedom allows me to work on developing X-band solutions that surpass what we even thought possible 10 years ago. And our very happy users are pushing the limits of what X-band can do on a regular basis – which continues to create a series of fantastic challenges for me to tackle. I’ve been at XTAR for a while now and interference has been almost non-existent on our fleet. I have yet to see a single signal from a small terminal user coming from an adjacent satellite. Not only that, we’ve implemented automated monitoring, storage and spurious detection of our entire spectrum and have not seen a single spur coming from an adjacent user!

However, the fact that I no longer have to deal with dissatisfied customers and users in the field has substantially lowered my stress level. Trust me when I say it’s stressful dealing with an upset military user in the field who is losing their signal during a mission-critical scenario. But I must admit, after handling daily complaints and irritations from Ku-band users, it does feel a bit lonesome not hearing from them anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, once in a blue moon we get a user with a malfunctioning terminal that was assembled improperly or has poor performance from the factory, but we typically address that during commissioning. While I am ready to go at a moment’s notice, the excitement is short-lived as it is generally an easy fix and we have a happy customer again in record time – a far cry from what my fellow technicians are experiencing at other satellite frequencies.

Sometimes my reminiscing gets a little too rosy and I may miss my daily interactions with customers, but I am quickly brought back to reality when I speak to my colleagues still in the Ku-band world who still have to deal with daily interference and handle the subsequent angry users and customers and I thank my lucky stars that I am a lonely X-Band Payload Operations Technician.