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Test set for new space antenna

A test of a new technology for a space antenna is scheduled to be launched later this month, to check out a new idea by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to make them smaller and faster and cheaper to build, explains Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The project is called the RF Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration and it scheduled to be sent aloft late this month.

The agency has labeled its product R3D2.

The test will be of a new type of membrane reflectarray antenna, which is made of tissue-thin Kapton membrane. It packs tightly for launch, and then will deploy to its full size of about seven feet in diameter.

The test is for the “deployment dynamics, survivability and radio frequency characteristics” of the antenna while it is in a low-earth orbit.

“The antenna could enable multiple missions that currently require large satellites, to include high data rate communications to disadvantaged users on the ground,” the agency said. “A successful demonstration also will help prove out a smaller, faster-to-launch and lower cost capability, allowing the Department of Defense, as well as other users, to make the most of the new commercial market for small, inexpensive launch vehicles.’

The design, development, and launch of the test unit is taking approximately 18 months.

“The Department of Defense has prioritized rapid acquisition of small satellite and launch capabilities,” explained Fred Kennedy, director of the agency’s Tactical Technology Office.

“By relying on commercial acquisition practices, DARPA streamlined the R3D2 mission from conception through launch services acquisition,. This mission could help validate emerging concepts for a resilient sensor and data transport layer in low earth orbit – a capability that does not exist today, but one which could revolutionize global communications by laying the groundwork for a space-based internet.”

For the rest of this report, and more, please go to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.