Deployable Antenna Systems

Deployable Solid Surface Antennas
CTD has been developing shape memory polymer and other novel deployables since 1999. CTD’s deployable reflector work started with the center-fed radar reflector. This elegant design concept (patent 7,710,348) enables small, inexpensive spacecraft to employ large antenna reflectors. The center-fed solid-surface deployable reflector was intended for small military or commercial spacecraft, enabling high-gain RF missions for RADAR, COMMS, and SIGINT. CTD has built a 3m reflector demonstrator that validated key aspects of the design and was successfully range tested, thermal tested, and packaged and deployed multiple times. This reflector design uses integral reflector stiffeners fabricated with shape memory polymer (US patent 7,897,225). These stiffeners are heated to allow packaging of the reflector, then are cooled to hold the stowed contour. After launch, they are heated on orbit to deploy to the operational position. This unit demonstrated that the reflector could be heated for deployment with a low total power input, only 300W for a 3m reflector. The deployment was also highly damped and controlled, with full deployment of the reflector requiring roughly 20 minutes to complete

Center Fed Reflector Mosaic

Membrane Antennas
Packed on ground before the launch, membrane antennas can be deployed to their full size once the satellite has reached its destined orbit. Membranes enable large-aperture antenna systems with ultra-low stowed volume.  CTD has developed a packaging and deployment system that takes advantage of CTD’s high performance deployable carbon fiber booms.  By utilizing CTD’s boom technology, the membrane antenna can be tensioned without any additional mechanisms and the resulting stiffness is high in comparison to other deployment approaches.

Membrane Antenna Mosaic

Dipole Antennas

Cubes Sat Dipole Boom Antenna

CubeSATs have become a popular platform for experimentation and education missions because of their low cost and and rideshare opportunities.  CTD has leveraged its deployable boom technology to provide a high performance UHF/VHF antenna platform in exceedingly low stowed volumes for CubeSats. The CTD deployer concept provides very efficient packaging and enables the boom to have integrated conductors, or an outer metal layer to act as the antenna element.

Dipole Antenna Mosaic

TEMBO Reflector Deployment Video
Membrane Reflector Deployment Video
CubeSat Boom Deployment Video