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£1m Injection into Pioneering New Space Technology


30 January 2019

The development of a new generation of pioneering British deployable satellite antennas has been boosted following a £1m MOD investment.

The ‘wrapped rib’ antenna is lighter, less complex and more cost-competitive than those currently available commercially. The antenna will be exclusively developed in the UK by Oxford Space Systems (OSS). It will make the UK the first European country with the capability of a flight-proven parabolic deployable antenna.

The lighter weight of the ‘wrapped-rib’ antenna means it can be transported to space more efficiently at less expense. This is critical in an industry where launch costs are high. The MOD funding will assist OSS to increase the antenna’s size and its performance to meet the needs of defence.

In collaboration with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Defence Innovation Fund, this is the largest contract placed with a first-time supplier by the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA).

The new antenna will be used to meet the needs of fine-resolution Low Earth Orbit Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery. SAR permits all weather Earth observation, irrespective of time of day or night. This provides unique advantages for both civil and defence applications. The technology will enable the UK to deploy a number of antennas in space, providing more accurate and frequent satellite images.

The technology consists of a specialist carbon-fibre composite and utilises origami engineering techniques to create a unique, compact, deployable antenna. This results in an antenna that is compact and light weight when folded for easy portability and deployability but can unfurl to several metres when in space, just like a large pop-up umbrella.

 

Source: MOD