To develop in Europe the capability of providing the small satellite market (e.g. 3u to 27u cubesat) with high gain antennas enabling satellite-to-satellite or satellite-to-ground data link specifically oriented to LEO constellations, LEO to GEO or LEO top EARTH communications.
The antenna is conceived to be capable of operating in at least three different operating frequency bandwidths.
To compensate for the limited power available from small satellites, the gain of the deployed antenna is maximised. Additionally, the overall antenna system has to be compact, light and reliable, in particular the unfolding must allow the proper positioning of primary and secondary reflectors such that the intended performance is reached.
The antenna is intended to be simple to reduce possible criticalities during unfolding; this is intended for reducing costs (which is always a driver in particular for small satellites) with no reduction in performance.
The antenna system in launch configuration (folded) will fit into a 3u equivalent volume interfacing the satellite only through four bolts placed at the top (in the unfolding size). The electrical and data connections are placed at the bottom of the antenna‘s container.
The overall system architecture relies on a spring–actuated parabolic primary reflector and on three different feeds to be chosen upon the mission requirements.
The antenna is ground-tested in a single configuration only (to be chosen upon a dedicated study supported by a market survey) while maintaining its capability of being effective in multiple bandwidths.
The overall duration of the program is 15 months, reaching a target TRL of 4.
Initially, the activity consults the small satellite community to determine the potential mission applications and requirements for such an antenna. Following this, detailed requirements are determined to ensure that the antenna is suitable for the needs of the market and is compatible with targeted small satellite platforms.
The activity includes design and testing of a breadboard system.
The program started on 19th September 2016, definition of the system requirements and initial design tasks are currently in progress.