RF testing of Ka-band reflectarray antenna for cubesat

In the last part of 2020, an important milestone was reached with the RF measurements of a Ka-band deployable reflectarray antenna developed by TICRA.

The RF measurements validated the prototype antenna design, performed by means of the TICRA products, CHAMP 3D for the feed element design, QUPES for the reflectarray design and ESTEAM for the cubesat platform scattering.

TICRA has been involved in the development of a number of reflectarray antennas for cubesat applications in recent years, including an X-band deployable Rx/Tx antenna concept targeted for in-orbit demonstration in 2022. TICRA is leading this antenna development for the European Space Agency.

The present project deals with another cubesat mission with a Ka-band deployable payload antenna. The mission requires a receiving antenna operating in dual circular polarisation from 17.7 GHz to 20.2 GHz which led to the selection of a feed horn as the antenna element.

The feed horn will be stowed inside the cubesat during launch and will be deployed in orbit. The deployment mechanism has not been designed for this demonstration antenna. The 8U cubesat supports a three-panel reflectarray configuration, and thus an antenna aperture of approximately 40cm x 60cm. This leads to an antenna peak gain in the order of 35.5 dB.

The picture above shows the 8U cubesat with the antennas during setup in the AAU measurement chamber. The feed horn is to the left of the cubesat structure.

TICRA has developed the prototype antenna in a project with the Danish Cubesat Satellite Manufacturer, GomSpace. The project is supported by Innovation Fund Denmark (IFD). The RF-measurements were performed in collaboration with Aalborg University (AAU) under the IFD-project MARSS.

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