Satellite Datalink 2.4 Meter Dimensionally Tunable Reflector
Commercial. Dimensionally tunable for a space datalink application.
Previous Limiting Technology
Previous ultra-precision reflectors (RMS <0.003”) have been cost prohibitive for much of the commercial sector. By creating a design with sections that are discretely deformed utilizing an active backing structure, this dish can optimize its shape and RF performance while meeting more constrained cost targets.
The customer requested a large (2.4 meter) reflector with a high degree of accuracy (RMS target of <0.003”). Additionally the reflector also required a back-up structure than enabled a deformable design through the use of an active tensegrity structure utilizing titanium-composite struts to achieve the correct shape adjustments. This objective was to optimize performance with both a high precision molded surface but also self-adjust to correct effects due to thermal and atmospheric conditions.
Rock West utilized high accuracy monolithic graphite tooling and a hybrid composite sandwich design to balance stiffness and deformability requirements. This sandwich structure was then augmented with a carbon fiber composite isometric grid attaching at discreet attachment nodes. The reflector surface is treated with a conductive paint applied with high accuracy. The results were a measured 65.2 dB gain vs. baseline/target of 57.7 dB.