Self-deployable Parabolic Satellite Antennas Based on Shape Memory Materials

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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.

They feature:

  • 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
  • lightweight

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:

  • telescopic
  • corrugated
  • coiled tubular ribbon

Two patents awarded


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  • Name:
    Gary Abramov
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