CubeSats, lightweight satellites with a size comparable to a shoebox, represent the next frontier for the space industry. They are accessible to companies of all sizes and can provide various and flexible services. However, the small platforms pose tight requirements at launch in terms of mass and volume. Since antennas requires large surfaces for high-gain communication, they are the most impaired payloads by this limitation. Deployable antennas, stowed during the launch, are the predominant solution, but the state of the art suffers from unsatisfactory overall performance.
The D.An.CE project aims to bridge this gap by designing a high-gain deployable antenna able to comply with the CubeSat platform standards. The starting point of the project was a set of requirements assigned by the stakeholder, Argotec. By means of thorough state-of-the-art research and requirements examination, four concepts have been developed and a trade-off analysis allowed to select the most promising design. On this basis, electromagnetic and mechanical studies as well as simulations refined the concept. Remarkably, the deployment capability of the design required a dedicated assessment through a prototype, which was realised with a 3D-printing technique and manually assembled.
The final design is a Fabry-Perot-based Partially Reflective Surface (PRS) antenna mounted on a reliable self-deployable lightweight scissor-structure support. The developed solution will disclose new and profitable applications for CubeSat in the future providing services which today are achievable only by larger and more expensive satellites. Indeed, in the context of the growing lunar economy, a high-data-rate communication infrastructure will be essential for future missions around and on the Moon’s surface. The project addresses this need by proposing an antenna that can be mounted as payload on a CubeSat constellation operating at X-band (8-12 GHz) and relaying data with Earth.
Principal Academic Tutor:
Ladislau Matekovits (Politecnico di Torino)
Gianmarco Reverberi – Argotec s.r.l.
Alessandro Balossino – Argotec s.r.l.
Luca Vigna – Argotec s.r.l.