Surface Optimization Techniques for Deployable Reflectors
Existing communications systems for spacecraft provide a choice between either large aperture (>3m) or high frequency (>X-band), but not both. These systems use either deployable mesh reflectors, which are limited in their operating frequency by the facets and RF reflectivity of the mesh itself, or rigid surface reflectors, which are limited in their aperture by the size of the launch vehicle fairing. Deployable solid-surface reflectors have the potential to enable both a large aperture and high frequency operation but are compliant and inherently difficult to fabricate to a precise surface contour. The proposed innovation is to develop methods for optimizing the surface contour of solid-surface deployable reflector systems using built-in adjustors. This allows for antenna systems with high data rate and high gain for interplanetary communications and other missions. Technical feasibility of this approach will be demonstrated in Phase 1 with the design, structural analysis, assembly, and demonstration of a tunable solid surface reflector thereby advancing the innovation to a TRL 5. The Phase 1 demonstration unit will incorporate tuning adjustors, an existing reflector shell, and a simplified backing structure. This will provide the methodology for a flight-ready demonstration unit to be completed as part of the Phase 2 contract.
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Composite Technology Development, Inc.
2600 Campus Drive, Suite D Lafayette, CO 80026
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