C-Band Deployable Antenna for Microsats

Status date
Activity Code

The following activities are covered by this project:

  • Design and analysis
  • Production and test of an Engineering Qualification Model
  • Production and in-orbit test of Flight Model

The antenna must be stowed in a very small volume against the satellite platform during launch and deployed on orbit. Once deployed, the parabolic surface of the reflector must have a shape accuracy in the order of 1mm for the antenna to perform well.


This antenna design has a smaller stowed volume and lower cost than the competition, allowing microsats to have a SAR capability that would otherwise require a much larger platform. 


The reflector uses a flexible moulded reflector membrane that can be folded during launch and assume its intended shape on orbit.

Engineering Model (EM) Surface During Folding Trials

System Architecture

The system comprises a hinged positioning arm, a deployable large reflector and hold down and release mechanisms to ensure launch survival. The reflector has a ring type structure and a reflective flexible surface moulded to a parabolic shape.


The MSN (MicroSAR new Space) project will be developed by building and qualifying the mechanisms from the bottom up in a similar way to that in which a satellite bus is composed of already qualified units such as momentum wheels, batteries etc.

Each mechanism type will be thoroughly tested and thereby qualified before being integrated into the top-level assembly. At the top level that model will be subjected to vibration testing followed by a post-test deployment to prove the system

There will be two design reviews at four and six month and a final review at project end.

Current status

The system has been designed and all analysis carried out indicating that the antenna will survive launch loads and meet RF requirements once deployed.

Several of the mechanisms have been successfully demonstrated at EM level. The tooling for the antenna has been created and a surface successfully made. That surface is about to undergo accelerated stowage tests.

Work is about to commence on developing a risk reduction model followed by a flight antenna.

Prime Contractor