FROM SATELLITE INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS to oil and gas exploration companies, many markets are eying Ka-band frequencies for their available bandwidth in support of high wireless data throughput. With a new space antenna, Harris Corp. plans to support emerging requirements for high-throughput, Ka-band satellites. Because this antenna is unfurlable, it also makes it possible to reduce stowed launch volume and antenna mass.
During launch, the Harris reflectors are stowed on-board the satellite much like an umbrella. Once in orbit, the controllers execute a series of maneuvers. They then send commands to deploy an articulating boom and unfurl the reflector (see figure).
Aside from its unique form, this antenna vows to raise both the gain and potential spot beams that are currently available to spacecraft manufacturers and service providers. With the increased frequency reuse provided by these additional spot beams, such firms will enjoy higher data rates. This aspect is key for providers of bandwidth-intensive services, such as satellite Internet, high-definition television (HDTV), and three-dimensional television (3DTV), as well as businesses that transfer large amounts of data between remote locations. Examples include oil and gas companies and maritime users.
The antenna features design elements that have been refined during development and production for US government and commercial programs. Examples include the application of reflective mesh, surface-shaping technology, and thermally stable materials. Its architecture leverages Harris' radial-rib-structure reflector design40 of which are currently in operation. The projected aperture ranges from 3.5 to 8 m in diameter. Its compact, stowed configuration is suitable for most launch vehicles.