PBI deployable parabolic antenna systems present a new paradigm in satellite communications enabling (very) large aperture antennas used even with cubesats.
The antennas are based on shape memory materials ‘married’ to heat pipe technology.
- no mechanical joints
- no dedicated deployment mechanisms
- simple deployment with heat
- high intrinsic reliability: high stored mechanical energy density
- scalable technology: from cubesat-compatible to multi-meter reflector assemblies: no fundamental barriers to large antennas implementation
- high volumetric packing density
Antennas are deployed by heat alone (no dedicated deployment mechanisms required):
- via dedicated heaters,
- directly passing electrical current through shape memory elements,
- central heater connected to heat pipes
- exposure to sunlight.
Heat pipes made of shape memory materials (first-ever) are utilized for fast deployment and large diameter reflectors.
Once deployed, antennas are insensitive to temperature changes.
Several primary parabolic reflector types possible:
- flexible material (wire mesh, metallized film) supported/stretched by shape memory ribs
- rigid self-supporting parabolic dish made of shape memory foil
Several deployable shape memory feed types possible:
- coiled tubular ribbon
Two patents awarded