083 - Deployable satellite navigation antenna

083 - Deployable satellite navigation antenna


The flourishing of utilisation of small and nano satellites in LEO orbit, and the need for ever better navigation accuracy, suggests the study of (relatively) high gain deployable navigation receiver antennas, in new frequency bands, that can be stowed at launch.

In a small satellite, this antenna should allow to achieve better performance when deployed than equivalent non-deployable patch, (double-)helix or array antennas with similar size and weight at launch. In other words, a deployable antenna provides an increased antenna size compared to the size of the spacecraft, however with minimum impact on spacecraft weight.

With (relatively) higher gain, this antenna could also find application on satellites in cis-lunar regions and, if more antennas are deployed jointly, find application also for attitude determination.

Objective: Design a prototype deployable satellite navigation antenna in X/Ku-Ka band 

Description of innovation/Tasks: 

  • application of existing X-band satcom technology to satellite navigation
  • review the state-of-the-art regarding deployable antennas
  • identify possible use cases for the usage of deployable antennas on small satellites for the navigation function
  • tradeoff different design solutions. Shapes could be paraboloids for high gain, high directivity antennas, but could be also different helix wider beam antennas, to avoid the need for pointing mechanisms. Appropriate attention to be placed on critical navigation requirements like phase stability, group delay stability and cross-polar attenuation. 
  • design, develop and verify the deployable antenna in a laboratory environment. 

Expected output: 

Prototype antenna with associated design and verification report based on laboratory data, demonstrating the reception of navigation signals with adequate signal to noise ratio.